Welcome to this week’s FC Throwback, where we take a look back at some of our favourite previous feature cars. This week it’s Ian Clements’ tuned BMW E46 M3 from 2012…

TUNED BMW E46 M3 interior

“What’s wrong with 343bhp?” we tentatively ask Ian Clements as we ponder over what’s surely one of the finer Bavarian sports coupes to ever grace our shores. “Nothing,” he says. “It’s just not 580, is it?” And he ain’t messing about either.

TUNED BMW E46 M3 front profile

Consider that a stock E46 M3 cracks 60 in 5.1 seconds and hits an electronically limited 155mph while revving to 7,900rpm and you might wonder why you need to add a pair of Garret GT22 turbos to the equation at all!

TUNED BMW E46 M3 engine close-up

There’s quite a simple reason. “No one had done it in the UK using the Horsepower Freaks kit and I had to be the first,” laughs Ian. His addiction to the countless 1,000+bhp M3 turbo YouTube clips (we know because he kept sending them to us) from Stateside power junkies, has led to the small matter of four years’ dedication to a lethal show car that’s now parked in the garage he recently built to keep it out of the rain. This M3 has been treated to the very best of everything. There’s simply no room for average here – none whatsoever.

TUNED BMW E46 M3 parked

It all began with a brace of BMs for the 33-year-old mechanic from the south coast, including both an E36 Coupe and a 330Ci convertible, both of which left him with no doubt what was to follow. “My mate popped round one day with an M3 he’d just bought and I was hooked on the performance and the sound of the engine immediately.”

BMW E46 M3 profile

A few weeks later the same mate spotted a superbike he wanted and the M3 had to go to drum up the readies. “I had just six days to get the money together. The 330 had to go and I had to call upon mates and my mum to borrow the dough for it until the drop-top was sold.” But borrow it he did and before he knew it Ian had the car booked in for a full respray with his pal Kieran Neale down at Leeds Motor Company in Eastbourne.

TUNED BMW E46 M3 wheels

Registered on an ’01 plate meant it had acquired a few imperfections over the years, but with them sorted and the Jet Black roof added, the time was right to lower the cars centre of gravity. AP coilovers now do a fine job of ensuring both terra firma and the CSL-spec carbon front bumper are in touch on
a regular basis.

BMW E46 M3 engine

Accompanied by a shedload of CSL carbon additions, including the bootlid and rear air diffuser, not forgetting the genuine Vorsteiner carbon fibre bonnet. The aggression factor has been ramped up with vents, weave and spoilers galore. Yet it’s subtle enough that only the educated truly notice.

TUNED BMW E46 M3 tires close-up

Rolling on those custom made, forged three-piece 8.5 and 11×19-inch Watercooled Industries BL8 wheels makes smoking the rear 275/30 Falkens a piece of piss, thanks to monster grunt on tap within. While a 240bhp increase in power to reach a conservative 580bhp may sound like a big boost, it’s important to remember that in theory a 1-bar (14.7PSI) increase over atmospheric pressure should result in twice the original horses. “As one of the first RHD kits it needed considerable development to fit properly,” says Ian. “Whereas all of the LHD versions in the States use a single turbo, two smaller turbos that spool up stupidly fast were needed to clear the steering rack for the UK market.”BMW E46 M3 seats leather

And that’s only the tip of the iceberg with this huge performance increase. The stock M3 bottom end is said to be good for 700+, but a reprogrammed traction control system, custom pipework, new inlet manifold, ECU remap and so many new parts it took ages just to open the boxes. Ian booked a full week off work but asked if he could borrow a ramp. “I spent eight hours a day for all of that week grafting on my own car. I remember the turbos, downpipes and chargepipes being a mission to fit as space was very limited. The turbos needed their own oil feed and return lines too – that part of the install was a challenge to say the least!”

BMW E46 M3 rear-profile

Fierce is the only word to describe how it now generates its power. The turbos spool so quickly it’s easy to catch the traction control off guard, and you can forget about wet weather or adverse weather for that matter – it’s brutal.

TUNED BMW E46 M3 exhaust

Whooosh tisssch sound effects are amplified further thanks to the savage straight six snarl that stems from a Supersprint cat back exhaust system. Ian reckons he’s racked up a staggering 50k in receipts, and when you check out the monstrous brakes and those stunning Carisma retrimmed CSL bucket seats it’s not hard to see why. Quite simply it’s one of the most comprehensively modified BMWs we’ve seen ever, and with the fine detailing and OCD tendencies Mr Clements has invested throughout it’s all about performance and style in perfect harmony. Is it too fast for most normal roads? Most definitely. Does Ian care? Hell no. Top man!

TUNED BMW E46 engine interior


3.2-litre straight-six S54B32; HorsepowerFreaks twin-turbo kit consisting of 2x Garrett GT22 internal wastegate turbos; HPF turbo manifolds and downpipes; intake manifold with (HKS dump valve); intercooler and piping; 750cc injectors; electronics and wiring loom; oil scavenge pump; oil and fuel lines; Denso Iridium spark plugs and HPF AEM engine management system; Zionsville Type 11 alloy radiator; HPF uprated fan clutch; header tank; and hardware throughout; Supersprint Lightweight race rear exhaust section and unsilenced centre section; one off red Samco hoses; HPF carbon fibre ECU lid and engine cover; carbon fibre pollen filter cover and xenon ballast cover; polished alloy oil filler cap; mirror polished vanos unit with stainless steel and anodized bolts; top mount turbo mirror polished with custom heatshield; Pipercrosscone filters; HPF traction control system.

Six-speed manual gearbox; HPF Stage 1 Feramic clutch; Rogue Engineering short shift kit; CA Automotive braided clutch line; UUC transmission mounts.

8.5×19 and 11×19-inch Watercooled Industries BL8 three-piece custom-built split rims; 215/35 and 275/30 Falken FK452 tyres; AP Sportwerk coilovers; HPF rear subframe reinforcement plates and front underbrace; Powerflex rear subframe and rear trailing arm bushes; Ground Control adjustable rose-jointed anti-roll bar droplinks; AP Racing big brake kits front and rear, consisting of 356mm discs and 8-pot callipers with race pads (front), consisting of 330mm discs and 6-pot callipers with Sport pads (rear); all custom painted and with braided lines.

Full respray in original Titan Silver with BMW MINI Jet black roof; CSL front bumper; bootlid and replica rear diffuser; Vorsteiner GTR vented bonnet; carbon fibre headlight inserts; carbon fibre kidney grilles; side grilles and roundels; CCFL angel eyes; custom badges on rear; rolled rear arches.

Full retrim in red Nappa leather with Bentley Silver cross-stitched seat centres and rear shelf; gloss black trims; CSL seats; AEM air/fuel and boost gauges in HPF pods; E46 Clubsport gearknob; silver M-Tech handbrake lever; carbon steering wheel roundel.

Alpine IVA-D310R 7-inch touch DVD headunit; Alpine CHA-1214 12-disc changer; Alpine KCA-420i iPod interface and KCA-410c versatile link; factory-fit Harman Kardon speakers including subwoofer.

Damien Devillian at Devillian Motorsports Engineering; Kirk Dorr; John Truong and Chris Bergemann at HorsepowerFreaks; Chris Bosgraaf at Watercooled Industries; Jamie Shaw at Carisma Automotive Design; Mark Blunden at BM Autosport; Kieran Neale and Eddie Law at Leeds Motorworks; Liane Emery at HMD Sealless pumps; Phil and Ian at Haven Garage Ltd; Phil and Roy at CA Automotive; Kevin Bousell; Bren Carlton; Peter Phan; Rob Dinsdale; Dave Cavaliere and Steve St-Claire.

Words and photography Jimbo Wallace