While we love a big-power tuned F80 M3 in the UK, they’re not often given the full show-car treatment. Mahisan Gurusinghe looked to California for inspiration and has produced a build that ticks all the boxes… 

We’ll start by dropping a bombshell. This jaw-dropping M3 is 26-year-old civil engineer Mahi’s (@copper_m3) first BMW. Yep, we couldn’t believe it either. Before seeing the Bavarian light, Mahi was a Wolfsburg man, enjoying his Golf R project car. This was enhanced with a Maxton Design aero pack, full custom exhaust and ambient lighting.

Mahi recalls that fateful day that opened his eyes to BMWs: “I was driving behind an F80 M3, and I was stunned at how fat the rear end was,” he tells us. “The thing had such street presence with its swollen arches, wide wheels and stance that I instantly fell in love. I followed it down the road, and my trance-like state was so intense that I actually jumped a red light travelling behind it. Two weeks later, I got a letter from the local constabulary highlighting my error. I like to make a positive out of a negative, and I took it as a sign that I had to buy an F80 M3,” he laughs, and that was that.

This Sakhir orange example came up for sale in the north of England, and it was worth the trip up from Mahi’s native south London. Not only was the colour right, but the spec included heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, Parking Assist, 360° camera, adaptive headlights, and blind spot cameras. The fact that the only modification was a secondary cat delete meant that the car was pretty much a blank canvas, and a deal was duly done.

side profile shot of tuned f80 m3

The modifications begin for the tuned F80 M3

Mahi had trouble settling on a set of aftermarket wheels, so he designed his own and had them made by a specialist. While he kept the manufacturer under wraps, he was happy to share the drool-worthy specs. The stunning two-piece 20” wheels measure up at a girthy 10” wide at the front and 11” at the rear. They feature anthracite cross-spoke centres that pick up the dark carbon fibre accents elsewhere on the car.

The barrels, hardware and personalised centre caps have been finished in copper, which was a brave choice of hue but one that works perfectly with the factory Sakhir orange. Stretch-friendly Triangle tyres complete the rolling stock package in 225/35 and 255/30 sizes. The calipers have been painted to match, and the copper theme continues under the bonnet with anodised bolts and painted filler caps, which aids the flow of this project. “It’s a tough call, but the wheels are probably my favourite modification as they look great, and it’s good to know that I’ll never see another set quite like them, truly unique,” Mahi enthuses.

air suspension compressor

Air ride suspension

Lowering the altitude to raise the attitude was high on the agenda. The ability to achieve a perfect show stance yet retain usability led to the inevitable decision to run air. The Airmext system was fitted by NH Automotive, which specialises in air suspension installs and rebuilding split rims, and Mahi has nothing but praise for them. Amazingly, NHA achieved that arch-to-lip fitment without removing any of the German steel.

front on shot of tuned f80 m3

Tuned F80 M3 styling upgrades

When Mahi turned his attention to body styling, he wanted to keep an OEM+ essence, despite the planned aftermarket enhancements. To that end, the rear lights and bonnet were changed for CS items which complement the carbon fibre CS splitter. The exterior carbon fibre continues with the kidney grilles, PSM side skirts, aero canards, rear spoiler, air intake canards, F1-style rear diffuser, and exhaust tips. The carbon fibre contrasts purposefully with the bright factory hue, accentuating the M styling.

interior shot of bmw

Interior mods

The well-specified black leather interior was a nice place to be from day one, but Mahi was still keen to put his stamp on it. Like a south London Ron Burgundy, his instruction was to “Keep it classy.” CLC Performance listened and nailed the brief, using carbon fibre, and Alcantara highlights to lift the interior without detracting from the M3 DNA. The gear lever and iDrive surrounds now wear gloss carbon fibre, as do the gear knob, handbrake handle, and shift paddles. The handbrake gaiter and armrest have all been expertly trimmed in black Alcantara with white contrast stitching. The carbon and Alcantara flat-bottom steering wheel features F1-style LED shift lights that hint at the power within, and full ambient lighting can calm the mood when required.

S55 engine in tuned f80 m3

Upping the power in the tuned F80 M3

Now, about that power within. Mahi worked with his good friend and fellow BMW nut (@batm4n_F82) to put together a well-considered package that more than brings the trousers to the mouth game. A look under the bonnet reveals the Littco Stage 2 turbos, Mosselman thermostat, Mishimoto catch can, and VSRF intakes and charge pipes.

A bm3 Stage 2 aggressive map and xHP Stage 3 gearbox map make the most of the modifications and help the F80 to 595hp. And, unsurprisingly, Mahi is more than happy with the way it drives: “The xHP Stage 3 gearbox map was the cherry on top. It makes the transmission want to be in race mode 24/7. Both the downshifts and upshifts are much more aggressive and urgent as a result,” he says. The aforementioned copper bolts and filler caps work with the carbon fibre intake heat shield and charge pipe covers, and body-coloured engine cover to create a ’bay that is both functional and pleasing to the eye.

driving shot of tuned f80 m3

What’s next?

With the three-year build looking like a million dollars, what’s next? A purple wrap and a retrim in white leather are ideas that have been pondered, but there is the small matter of saving for a Lamborghini Huracán Performante to consider. For what it’s worth, we think that Mahi has achieved F80 M3 perfection. Attention to detail has ensured that the car has a holistic and complete feel and flow with the clever use of carbon fibre and copper accents, complementing that gorgeous factory Sakhir orange. From the ’bay to the interior to the boot-mounted air install, no area of the car has been left stock. As the M3 airs out and poses for the gorgeous photos on these hallowed pages, we consider Mahi’s design brief of creating a US-style full show build. Completed it, mate.

Words: Graham Leigh Photos: Leonised.

rear shot of tuned f80 m3