The last thing you want to do with a project car is rush it; you’ll end up with something flaky that you’re never happy with. Rich Colbeck’s flawless Rocket Bunny Pandem BMW M3 is proof that if you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it right…
Building a project car is much like playing a game of high-stakes poker. You’ve always got to be mindful not to give away your hand, not to exhibit a giveaway tell, not to let anyone know how powerful your finish will be until the time is right. It also requires a lot of whisky, a dimly-lit room, an opponent named Knuckles of questionable moral virtue, and… actually, no, it isn’t like poker at all.
It is all very ‘Too soon, junior…’ though; when you’re at the planning stage, it’s exciting to visualise the finished product, to rush through it and cut a few corners in order to show everyone your big idea. But you have to be patient, play the long game, do things properly. Otherwise you’ll always be a little bit disappointed, like those couples on Grand Designs who blow a million on a custom-built house, then cock it up at the last minute with a cheapo caravan kitchen because they’re desperate to move in.
This gloriously aggressive E46 M3, rocking its boisterous Pandem wide arches, is a clear manifestation of why you shouldn’t rush things. It’s been built properly, to a very high standard, and the results speak for themselves. But there’s more to this story than meets the eye: you see, we knew of this car in its first wide-arch guise, and… well, we don’t want to be uncharitable, but let’s just say the fella who put it together was perhaps a little more focused on the end product than he was on the actual methods of getting it there. If you rush things, people will know.
This car was, in fact, the very first E46 M3 in the UK to be fitted with the still-boxfresh Rocket Bunny Pandem kit, although the manner in which it was originally thrown together didn’t exactly do the car any favours. It was more of a fifty-yard motor. It photographed well, it looked cool as it rolled by, but it didn’t really bear close scrutiny. You might spot all the random wood screws holding it together.
What’s most impressive about the car’s resurrection is that its new owner, Rich Colbeck, didn’t even mean to take on another project – he was looking for something stock that he could just have a bit of fun with. But the old ugly-duckling scenario reared its head, and Rich just felt compelled to help the BMW recuperate and heal, so that it could develop into the swan it was always destined to be.
It helps, of course, that Rich has a lengthy history of building flawlessly executed rides; his last car, for example, a Liquid Yellow Mitsubishi Evo VIII dripping in carbon fibre and boasting an eye-watering spec, was featured within these very pages just a few months ago. This, then, is a man who does things properly – as you’d no doubt expect given his day job, pulling the strings at Autoworx in Hull.
“I’d always wanted an E46 M3,” Rich explains. “I decided that once the Evo was done, I was just going to buy an M3 and take a break from modified cars for a bit. Although as you can see, that went horribly wrong!”
Indeed, but fate’s loss is our gain, as the hunk of Hulk-like loveliness here keenly proves. Having spotted the UK’s first Pandem E46 on eBay…