While this BMW M4 might look subtle on the outside, barely contained beneath the surface sits a seriously modded S55 developing an earth-shattering amount of power, creating a 1000whp BMW M4 monster.
Feature taken from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Brandon Fudge.
Is there such a thing as too much power? Ricky Nguyen wouldn’t say so because he’s built the most powerful M4 we’ve ever seen. That’s made all the more impressive by the fact that while the S55 is a serious powerhouse, to extract truly astronomical figures from it as he has done requires real commitment, and this car has been built to a scale and standard that are truly astonishing.
Ricky’s 1000whp BMW M4 build would be impressive regardless of how many modded cars had come before it on his motoring journey, but the fact that this is not only his first BMW but also his first-ever modded car makes this whole project and the incredible end result all the more amazing. So what drives a man who drove a Honda Accord as his first car to buy an M4 and mod it on this scale? “I have always been interested in BMWs as they don’t go out of style and last for generations,” says Ricky. “What makes BMWs special to me is their durability and longevity. Their body style is unique and still looks modern and luxurious even after newer models are released. They can be passed on from generation to generation and still run like the day they were driven off the dealer’s lot,” he says and he makes a good point. “The BMW E92 M3 was my dream car growing up as a kid. I always loved the M3’s aggressive body lines and sporty look as a coupé. A BMW M coupé is the car that I had to have when I could afford one; there was no other car that kept my attention like that,” he smiles. “I decided to buy my 2016 BMW F82 M4 because it had everything I was looking for in a BMW. It checked every box on my buying list: BMW, M performance, coupé, Mineral white, and being that is the first 4 Series M model was a bonus. I know it will become a classic, luxurious sporty vehicle that others will come to love and enjoy down the road,” he says.
Now, while Ricky did have some mods in mind for his M4, with this being his first BMW and with him never having modded a car before it’s understandable that he fully intended to take things easy and keep the mods mild. “My only plans I had for the car after purchasing it were to add an exhaust and downpipes, the simple bolt-on mods,” he says, and we can see how well that worked out for him… “The first mod done to the car was adding catless downpipes and an exhaust. Both were purchased from Fabspeed as they have their signature X-pipe design to eliminate the rasp of the OEM exhaust note,” he says. “The second mod I did was adding my M Performance carbon fibre lip and carbon diffuser. After adding the exhaust and carbon fibre exterior pieces, I felt like the car lacked power to match its appeal so I went with a custom Stage 2 tune with bootmod3,” and with just those simple mods Ricky already had a car that looked good, sounded good and went like stink, with the Stage 2 bootmodm3 taking power deep into 500hp territory. As far as a selection of starting mods goes, they definitely got the job done and the car remained at this level for a little while, but when Ricky made his next move things got serious, and seriously fast.
“Once I drove the car for another 5000 miles I felt that it could use a lot more mods so I purchased the following items and had them all installed at once,” he says and everything he bought took the M4’s power level from reasonable to incomprehensible in one giant leap. It took a hell of a lot of work but, damn, did it get results. “I bought Evolution Racewerks charge pipes, Fuel-It Stage 4 kit, Driveshaft shop axles and propshaft, SSP Spec-R clutch and transmission package, Pure Turbos High-Flow Stage 2 turbos, Burger Motorsports intakes, CSF front-mount race heat exchanger, top-mount cooler and DCT cooler, and a CarBahn Autoworks Stage 2 engine. All of these modifications were added just 8000 miles after purchasing the car and installing all of these modifications took about nine months,” he explains and that’s an incredible array of upgrades, but it’s the CarBahn Autoworks Stage 2 engine that really stands out because that’s what takes this build to a whole other level.
“The CarBahn Stage 2 engine was the longest wait as they had to upgrade a stock S55 engine,” explains Ricky. “I went with a CarBahn engine because it is a Steve Dinan engine, and the Dinan name has been tied to BMW since 1977 when he first started building high-performance BMW street and racing engines. CarBahn Autoworks addresses the two biggest issues that plague the S55 engine,” Ricky continues, “and the engine is also built with forged Carrillo connecting rods and forged CP pistons for excellent durability. Lastly, the engine’s compression ratio is dropped by 0.5 to accommodate a large increase in boost and the cylinder head is also ported to maximize airflow at higher rpm,” he continues. “Once the engine came in everything was installed at the same time since the entire car would be torn apart. This allowed for the car to have the least amount of downtime possible. As soon as these mods were done, the car was pushing 730whp and 750lb ft wtq; I drove the car around at this power level for about two weeks before I blew the clutches and transmission. I had a shift-rod error from too much torque causing the SSP Spec-R clutches to fail along with my transmission,” Ricky tells us but, as we all know, when something breaks that just means that you rebuild it even better than before, which is exactly what he did.
“At this point, I knew that I had another chance to rebuild my car – I was given a second chance to turn my BMW into what it is now,” he grins. The first item on the list was brakes, because while the stock items are probably the best M3 (and M4) brakes we’ve ever had, there’s still plenty of room for improvement, especially once you start upping the power to this sort of level. Ricky opted for a Brembo BBK with red calipers to deliver the perfect contrast against the white bodywork, with six-pot calipers up front and four-pots at the rear, both mated to 380mm discs, and this is actually his favourite mod on the whole car. “It allows me to go as fast as I want and still be able to stop as needed. Without the big brake kit, I would not be able to drive the car as spiritedly as I do,” he smiles. Next up, the clutches needed some serious upgrades to ensure they were ready for what Ricky had planned; “I sent the clutches back to South Side Performance (SSP) and had Kris make me custom clutches. I did not know my power goals so I told him to do whatever he has to as I plan on pushing at least 1000whp while daily driving the car. While the clutches and transmission were being replaced, Kratos released their KRAS55Bi turbos. These turbos are designed to allow the car to push a much higher amount of boost with less strain on the motor. Also, the turbos’ dual ceramic ball bearing aids in decreasing response time with its near-frictionless surface as well as guaranteeing long term reliability,” he says.
“While tuning the car with the previous Pure turbos, I ran into valve float with the stock valve springs. Valve float is a common issue now with the S55 engine as you reach approximately 7-800whp depending on your car’s setup,” Ricky explains. “With valve float occurring, we could turn up the boost as much as we want but no power gains would occur. It can also cause damage to the engine if not addressed in a timely manner. At this time, there were only two companies working on a valve spring upgrade for the S55 engine as it was unknown territory, because only a small handful of S55s were pushing the limits and boundaries as I was. HeadGames Motorworks was the first to have a complete, finished product and I went with their valve spring kit to solve my valve float issue. Once the valve springs were upgraded, it was time to bolt on the Kratos turbos and get it tuned.
“I went with Halim at HCP Performance as my tuner as he, along with the staff at Kratos, make a hell of a team and had my car dialled in within a week. While tuning the vehicle, I found a small boost leak in my Evolution Racewerks aluminium charge pipes and replaced them with Maximum PSI’s silicone charge pipes and their J-Pipe. I also ran into issues with the Burger Motorsports intakes so I modified the setup to be compatible with ASR Engineering’s intakes. I also installed a 4 bar Bosch sensor so that the car can run more boost than the OEM factory sensor. At that point, the rest is history,” he grins. “The car dyno’d at 995whp and 847lb ft wtq on pump E85 alone at 45 psi, and 656whp/580wtq on 93 octane at 27 psi with more left in it on the 93 octane tune. I did not dial in the 93 octane tune as I prefer the power that E85 delivers. I kept the torque down intentionally for the E85 pump map so that the transmission can keep up,” he adds.
Now, for most people that would be it, because 995whp is an insane amount of power, but Ricky isn’t most people… “After driving the car daily for five months, I learned a lot about it and its characteristics. I learned what it liked and didn’t like. I also knew that I left power on the table so I decided to do some more modifications. 995whp and 847lb ft wtq was not enough,” he grins. “I first contacted Mike at Evolution of Speed so that he could set me up with one of his CNC intake manifolds. I also upgraded my 950cc injectors from Fuel-It to Injector Dynamics’ 1050x injectors that flow 1065cc at 3 bar. Furthermore, I swapped out my spark plugs to Brisk’s QR08S Silver Racing plugs, which are one step colder than the QR10S I ran previously. I also contacted Kris at South Side Performance and I upgraded the stock DCT transmission pan to their DCT Billet Transmission Pan as well as their DCT Viton Transmission Pan Gasket and Stainless Steel Filter. The SSP Transmission Pan is CNC’d and has cooling fins to keep temperatures down while also providing an additional 2-litre capacity over stock. With more power comes more responsibility so I also installed SPL’s Titanium Rear Upper Links and Rear Traction Links as well as Fall-Line Motorsports’ Toe Link Kit.
“Since I upgraded to the Evolution of Speed intake manifold for extra fuelling, my mechanic Matt had to run some custom fuel lines so that it would be compatible with some of the existing Fuel-It components. With changes to the fuelling, that also meant I had to retune the car as well. I decided to go with my original tuner this time, Paul Johnson, otherwise known as F80Paul. He is extremely knowledgeable on the S55 platform as well as a few others such as the B58 engine,” says Ricky. “After everything was installed, we started tuning immediately and the rest is history. It took approximately two days to tune the car on the dyno for three different types of fuels. We first started with pump E85 with my ethanol sensor reading E80 then moved on Ignite Red (E90) and finally 93 octane. The car put down 960whp and 845lb ft wtq on the pump E85 map, 1005whp/863lb ft wtq on the Ignite Red map and 670whp/600lb ft wtq on 93 octane in the 90°F (32°C) weather here in Dallas, Texas. If tuning was done during boost season like when it was previously tuned my numbers will definitely be higher, and with race fuel alone the car is capable of up to +1163whp/983lb ft wtq as that is what Kratos made on their shop car. I always keep race fuel handy, so that if I do want to make more power on a particular day I just need to mix it in with the pump E85,” he smiles. We need a moment because the numbers being thrown around here are just insane. 1005whp is a completely abstract number that you can’t even begin to wrap your head around, and to have that much in a car that is still daily driven is just beyond words, really.
The question on our lips, and everyone else’s, is what is it actually like to drive something with that level of power, because it’s incomprehensible really. “I daily drive the car on the E85 tune and it is exhilarating to say the least,” he laughs. “When people ask me what it’s like driving the car around as my daily driver with 1000hp to the wheels, I tell them it’s just like stock but faster. The jerkiness with the DCT transmission from the factory is gone with the upgraded clutches and tuning. I have no issues with traction besides in first and second gear; given the right environment/factors, the car will catch traction in third gear, no later than fourth. The car is an absolute rocket and physically lifts when I smash the gas pedal. It looks and sounds like a luxurious, high-end performance BMW coupé: it is the ultimate driving machine,” he smiles and we don’t doubt that for a moment.
Often when we feature a car with this sort of power level it has the outlandish looks to go with it but, as you can see here, this M4 is incredibly subtle on the outside, and it’s a theme that carries over to the inside as well. While by its nature an M4 – and any M car – can never truly be considered a sleeper, this 1000whp BMW M4 is about as close as you can hope to get. “I decided to go with an OEM+, sleeper-style look for the car,” says Ricky. “I kept the engine bay looking as stock/OEM as possible. Every modification on the car was ordered directly from BMW’s M Performance line if possible. I was first running an M Performance carbon fibre lip but it cracked in half and flew off while flooring the car, so I then replaced it with an M4 CS-style carbon lip and secured it to the point where it will not fly off. I even got the quad exhaust tips from Fabspeed finished in polished chrome to make them look as close to the stock quad tips,” he says.
1000whp BMW M4 sleeper? You best believe it
We admire Ricky’s restraint and his subtle carbon additions merely serve to delicately enhance the car’s looks without drawing any unwanted attention, and the same goes for the wheels, which are far from flash, and the suspension, which has been set up to deliver handling and the perfect drop. “Given the fact that I went after an OEM+ sleeper look, I decided to go with something a little different than the usual wheel selections,” he explains. “I decided to go with Brixton Forged’s CM10 monoblock forged wheels finished in Satin Kingsport Grey,” and the intricate design looks so good on the M4’s shape while the colour and satin finish are a stunning combo. The wheels are wrapped in super-sticky Toyo R888R rubber, with 265s up front and 305s at the rear, delivering huge levels of grip and traction.
For suspension, Ricky chose a set of Öhlins Road & Track coilovers, which offer plenty of adjustment, allowing him to fine-tune his M4’s handling based on the type of driving he’s doing and their track bias is perfect for him as, while the M4 might be his daily, it also gets to enjoy some circuit time, while the SPL Titanium Links combined with the Fall-Line Motorsport kit helps him put all that power to the ground. Finally we come to the interior and, as with the exterior, things have been kept very subtle and stock in here. “The interior is very basic and stock-looking and I did all of the interior mods myself,” Ricky says. “I installed the M Performance Alcantara arm rest, DCT carbon fibre knob, DCT console trim, carbon fibre/Alcantara parking brake handle and stainless steel pedals,” and while that might be a modest selection of mods, these M Performance additions are more than enough to enhance the cabin’s aesthetics and make it feel just that little bit more special.
We feature some incredible cars here at PBMW but this 1000whp BMW M4 is truly something else. It’s not just the headline figure that is mind-blowing, it’s the work that’s gone into achieving it which is truly astonishing, with that engine taking centre stage and it truly sets this build apart. If you’re ever wondering what it takes to build a 1000whp car, this is the level of commitment and dedication that’s required. We love this car for many reasons, but we particularly love the way it combines insane power with incredibly subtle styling, because that’s something we’ll never get bored of. After nine months of building and an incredible array of mods, it is with both great relief and satisfaction that we can say this car is done and Ricky only has one thing on his mind. “My only plan is to drive it as much as possible and enjoy it so that all the time, effort and money was not put to waste,” he says with a smile and that sounds like a damn good plan to us.
Tech Spec: 1000whp BMW M4
Engine and Transmission:
3.0-litre straight-six CarBahn Autoworks Stage 2 S55B30, Kratos KRAS55Bi turbos, HeadGames Motorworks valve spring kit, Burger Motorsports intakes modified with ASR filters, Fabspeed catless downpipes and exhaust with polished chrome tips, CSF top-mount chargecooler, front-mount race heat exchanger & DCT transmission cooler, Evolution of Speed intake manifold, Injector Dynamics 1050x injectors, Maximum PSI charge pipes and J-pipe, bootmod3 software, custom tuning by HCP Performance, custom tuning by Paul Johnson. Seven-speed M DCT gearbox, South Side Performance custom DCT clutches, Billet Transmission Pan, Viton Gasket and Transmission Filter, Driveshaft Shop propshaft and axles, GTS DCT TCU flash, GTS diff flash
Power and Torque:
1005whp and 863lb ft wtq on Ignite Red (E90), 960whp and 845lb ft wtq on pump E85, 670whp and 600lb ft wtq on 93 octane
9.5×19” (front) and 11×19” (rear) Brixton Forged monoblock CM10 wheels in Satin Kingsport Grey with 265/35 (front) and 305/30 (rear) Toyo R888R tyres, Öhlins Road & Track coilovers, SPL Titanium Rear Upper Links and Titanium Rear Traction Links, Fall-Line Motorsports Toe Link Kit, GTS electronic power steering flash and traction control flash, Brembo Type 3 BBK with six-piston calipers and 380mm discs (front) and four-piston calipers and 380mm discs (rear)
M4 CS-style carbon fibre front lip, BMW M Performance carbon fibre rear diffuser and boot lip spoiler, Suntek Ultra PPF and Ceramic Pro Lifetime Warranty by Southwest Auto Detailing
BMW M Performance Alcantara armrest, DCT carbon fibre console trim, Alcantara/carbon fibre handbrake handle and stainless steel pedal covers, BlackVue DR900S-2CH dash cam