Craig Lieberman's Uber BMW M3
As Craig Lieberman puts it, "I guess Iím an extreme example of a car nut who never grew out of it." Perhaps thatís a wee bit of an understatement.
More than 20 years ago, Lieberman was a Datsun Z and V6 Capri fan. He was modifying cars from the day he got his driverís license. After 15 years, he had owned several Zís, a Chevelle or two, a 544hp supercharged 5.0 liter Mustang and a 12 second nitrous equipped Impala SS but he is perhaps best known for his Supra. No ordinary Supra, this bright orange Supra is one of the most famous in the world...it was "Brianís" Supra in "The Fast and The Furious."
In reality, Lieberman was never pleased with the look of the Supra. "It was yellow and clean when I built it, but Hollywood chose to rice it out. Rather than to destroy a valuable movie memorabilia piece, I sold it and rolled the money over into a Skyline. After 2 Fast 2 Furious was done with it, we sold that car for a Diablo and an M3. As you can probably guess, we made a pretty penny on both cars."
But Lieberman needed a daily driver and in his typical over the top fashion, would settle for nothing less than a premium sports car. "The M3 is a brilliant piece of engineering....all BMWís are. Drive anything else for 4 hours, then drive a 3 series immediately thereafter...the suspension refinements, precise turn-in and striking balance and poise at speed is unrivaled by even Lexus or Mercedes." I think most of our board users would agree.
After using the car on set down in Florida for filming of 2 Fast 2 Furious, Lieberman decided to start modding this car once it was safely home in California. "Bimmers like Jon Sibalís, Troy Wilhiteís, James Demmittís and Eddie Farconís were inspirational. They are well tuned and modified in a flashy, but tastefully done manner. I looked to them for styling cues and ideas."
Lieberman shopped around and found the Flosman kit from Eisenhaus in Chicago, Illinois. "Great to deal with, honest, fast shipping and no drama...very up front about the whole process." After a brief wait, the kit arrived in proper packaging, ready for installation. "It was so well packed, the unwrapping probably took longer than the installation! But the kit is indeed superb...super thick fiberglass but fit and finish that rivals many of the best Japanese kit suppliers. The aggressive look and high price will make the kit fairly exclusive, at least at first....after all, who wants to cut up a $50,000 car?"
The process would not be easy, given the kit had to be glassed into the stock rear quarter panels which still needed to be cut. Further, a color changed was being specíd, so additional time would be needed. Worthy of note is the cutting that needs to be done at the lower, rear area of the front fenders to accommodate the swoop inwards of the rocker panels and the attention to corrosion resistance needed when cutting through galvanized panels which required extensive corrosion resistant coating, inner splash shield building and texture matching. Inside the rear wheelhouse, it looks stock. The kit shaves 100 lb from the original curb weight, mostly through metal cutting. The front is a bit more open for airflow, but corrosion resistant paint and insulation was added. All of this added complexity to the installation, as well as time and expense. Quigleyís Paint charged a cool $14,000 to paint the car this custom, Lamborghini candy blue using 2 coats of base lavender, 4 blue coats and 2 clear coats.
After 6 weeks, the car was nearly done at the paint shop. Further expense would be needed to complete the outside, including coil overs to close up the wheel gap and custom built wheels. KW Suspension shipped over some Version 3 fully adjustable coil overs and HRE Wheels would custom build three sets of wheels for Lieberman to try out to see which he liked. The jury is still out on his decision, but the car will appear as shown for the SEMA show. The wheels right now are prototype HREís using Pirelli 305/30/19 in the rear and a 4 inch lip.
As the car prepares for SEMA, it awaits the Stop Tech big brake kit. Lieberman is a huge fan of Stop Tech. "I used their 15 inch kit on my Skyline and got their brakes on several cars for 2 Fast 2 Furious. Unbelievable, youíll never appreciate how much time you can make up on a road course or canyon road if you can brake deep with confidence. Forget Brembo and AP...overpriced for what you get, in my opinion."
A car this aggressive looking needs to look the power so power mods would be a high priority during the stage 1 build up process. A quick call to K&N and MagnaFlow got the ball rolling. Using only a panel filter on the front end, any power increase of substance would have to come from the exhaust. Fortunately, Lieberman works with MagnaFlow and they custom tuned an exhaust just for the E46 M3. Due for release in June of 2004, the system uses a MagnaPack and resonator combo through a custom, straight through muffler using 2.25" inch pipe. "We experimented with 16 different solutions to find one that made good power without being too loud or without retaining the stock, raspy fart-like sound. The secret is in the inner muffler design and how it necks down. 14hp at the wheels was the result...good enough for me." 83mm tips complete the tail end.
As an SMG car, driving this beast around town is insane fun and it draws mad stares and inquisitive liaisons from people of all ages. "People follow me for a bit, then sit at my quarter panel trying to figure out why it looks wider than a standard M3. When I tell them that it would take about $30,000 over the base price to make an M3 look like this, they ask Ďyou could buy a Porsche for that price.í" Indeed. In fact, Liebermanís other car is a 996 TT X50 car, but to hear him tell it, the M3 is his true love.
"The Porsche is a superb automobile...much better than my Lambo was. But the M3 has it all: comfort, style, reliability, sportiness and a unique look that says "modified." To me, thatís having my cake and eating it too and it makes my 4 mile daily commute go by way too fast."
Coming soon will be a full audio/video system and nitrous. Lieberman is still considering how much audio heíll add as heís conscious of weight. Thus far, his sole concessions to wretched excess in the interior are small touches like the Xenarc T700TSV touch screen interface to the Dell Latitude computer, which controls navigation, a DVD player and wireless internet. Some other touches like the Passport SR&7 integrated radar/laser detector and shifter are barely noticeable, but certainly the Motec ADL data logging dash cluster is. This nifty device monitors speed, RPMs, gear selection and all pertinent engine temps. With the full sensor package and software, itís a $10,000 upgrade...and this is just the beginning?
Overall, I think most will agree that Liebermanís switch to European cars is agreeing with him. His M3 features some of the most exclusive and aggressive parts seen on an E46 M3. Who hasnít dreamed of driving an M3 GTR race car on the street? Liebermanís M3 is perhaps as close as any of us will ever get.
Like any great project car, many people have contributed to the effort. Lieberman would like to thank:
If youíd like to learn more about Lieberman who view his projects, log onto www.moviecarz.com and check the "Hot NewZ" section frequently. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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