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///M3 Forum
The BMW E46 ///M3 is the M version E46 and puts out an amazing 333 HP and 262 lb-ft of torque at stock specs! There are an amazing amount of modifications for both the coupe and convertible models so read up and get started modifying your cars today!

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Old 10-26-2012, 01:14 AM   #1
gearhead2069
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My modification "journal"!

Hey fanatics,

After crazy amounts of research and about 2 years worth of window shopping for a new project/hobby, I broke down and bought my M!!! I have been looking around and have spent countless amounts of time searching and dreaming on these forums and decided that an e46 fit my needs. The car is going to be a weekender project/daily driver if needed type of car, but I still want something I can tinker with and have people appreciate at shows. Every mod that I plan to do will be directed toward keeping the car appear, upon first glance, to be stock to many but to be noticed by enthusiasts. I hope to have a HPF turbo installed within the next few years as a "final modification" after most everything else has been touched on. This includes little aesthetic changes and performance modifications such as suspension and the like. I am posting this thread as my little journal/open recommendation request page if you will.

With ALL that being said... I welcome ANY and ALL recommendations. From here on out, as I purchase parts I will be posting pictures and short little reviews of everything that gets placed on the car. I will also do my best to post links as to where you can pick up the parts I have mentioned.

So I guess I'll start it off. I bought a 2004 carbon black e46 M3 and just to go ahead and get it out of the way... I'm in love.





I've always seen myself more as a muscle car guy, but I have been convinced to broaden my horizons!

A little info: before buying the car I was looking around and trying to decide exactly how far and what direction I was wanting to take my little project. After deciding that I was going to go no less than a HPF stage 2.5, I figured that as long as the car has no frame damage and it was taken care of by it's previous owners, there is absolutely no reason to purchase a car with little to no milage seeing how I want to replace the engine with a brand new one from HPF and to basically do a complete overhaul over time. Mind you this is just my personal opinion, but I just thought that purchasing a near brand new car and then having the suspension and drivetrain replaced would be a waste of my cash. My car was purchased with a little over 70k on the clock and I was fortunate enough to find a car in which all of the maintenance was documented via the vehicle's key at a BMW dealership on time as recommended. I decided on a stick. I know that the SMG's have been proven to be easier and quicker for the average joe on the track, but damn, sticks are just fun! The paint has a few imperfections as a car that has been driven would, but like I stated before, the car is my little project which puts a paint job in my near future.

I am sad that I did not decide to do this earlier so I will just go ahead and recap what little things have been done so far.

I first purchased a new shift nob. I realize the original was made tall for a reason and that is to put it closer to the steering wheel making it easier to switch between the two when you put your foot in it, but I just hated the look. Abiding by my plan to stick to "stock at a glance" I purchased a ZHP shift nob and replacement boot from Turner Motorsport. http://www.turnermotorsport.com/p-18...d-pattern.aspx I love it! It feels fantastic in my hand and lowers the grip just enough to satisfy my aesthetic pleasure.



Before:



After:



Here is a great thread on how to remove the interior trim. http://www.e46fanatics.com/howto/how...hp?howto_id=25 Once you get down to the piece surrounding the knob, do as they say for removing the shift boot, then just pull up directly on the knob. Be sure that you pull straight up and don't torque the lever in any way as to avoid any kind of damage. Also... make sure you don't give yourself a black eye because you may have to put some muscle behind it.

I am really pleased with the service and shipping from Turner Motorsport. Shipping was fast and the process was easy. I plan on purchasing from them in the future. They also make it really easy to get maintenance products such as oil (a pain in the neck when it comes to finding it), filters, and the like.



Next I went for halos. Personally, I absolutely love them! They look fantastic and when you turn the lights off at night. That clean glow just looks absolutely sinister! I purchased a kit from Bimmian. http://www.bimmian.com/WeissLicht-Ha...W-E46-3-Series I really recommend these rings. They feel like they have a great build quality and the clips that come with them make it super simple with the install. I recommend using this site as well just because they provide simple installation instructions with most of the parts they sell and the wiring harness that was sent with the kit allows the lights to fade on when I unlock the car using the key fob and fad out upon locking it- such a cool effect!



I also placed an order for replacement side indicators from Bimmian. My indicators were old, turning a bit yellow, and I could actually see water in behind them. Of course, I had an issue with this. That and I found that the original white indicators were a bit unattractive.



I ordered a pair of smoke LED indicators and I think they look great. Once again, installation instructions were included and the build quality is better than OEM. The indicator still lights up as amber though I believe they are available to light in white as well. http://www.bimmian.com/WeissLicht-LE...W-E46-3-Series



The next thing I absolutely HAD to fix was the freaking cap that covers the nut holding the windshield wiper on. Apparently the guy I purchased the car from lost one of them and it was driving me CRAZY!



After searching around for forever I found it!
http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-M3-...iper/ES169835/
ECS Tuning has that available and many other little parts that may seem near impossible to find. I wish that I had known about them before having the lining on my A and C pillars redone because they have the pillars already finished ready to install and I could have just purchased brand new ones for cheaper than it was to have them redone.
http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-M3-S54_3.2L/

I had a hard time paying shipping for a part that was under 3 bucks so I also decided to replace those crappy looking (again, in my opinion) orange reflectors on the front of the car. I didn't really want to delete them completely as to loose any kind of function that BMW had intended for them so I was really excited when I found a pair of smoked lenses.
http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-M3-...rkers/ES11208/

Before:



After:



I was impressed. I compared the old with the new and the build quality is identical if not better and for 10 bucks... please!

Also with this same purchase, I ordered a new center console.
http://www.ecstuning.com/BMW-E46-M3-...nsole/ES86862/
Once again... previous owner... I guess he decided that driving with rings on your right hand was a good idea. The area under the emergency brake looks as if someone had taken a piece of 40 grit sandpaper and just went to town... heart breaking. That's okay I guess... tearing apart my interior for the install will be fun!



The quality of the part is OEM. Has the exact dimensions and is even coated with that strange feeling paint (for lack of a better term) that BMW uses on the part. For 50 bucks... not a bad find. I would have rather purchased a carbon piece but I wasn't able to find one that accepted the leather armrest (also available through ECS ). If any of you find one... by all means, PLEASE send me a link and I'll sell you this one for half what I got it for!

Separately but around the same time, I purchased some carbon fiber REPLACEMENT trim.







I absolutely LOVE the look and quality of the parts! Damn, they were hard to find but oh so worth it. I did not purchase the arm rests though... before I get flamed for the decision, I think I want to try and repaint the originals and add a heavy clear coat. I would like to try and incorporate the BMW color stripes in the part somehow but to do it tastefully with a base color that will still look okay with the carbon trim. The only reason for this decision is that I freaking love the carbon, but the problem is that everyone and their mom likes to do the same thing with their trim. I kind of want something that is different but without looking like crap (as that strategy often turns out). Once I complete the parts and put it all together, if it throws the look off any at all, I'll just purchase the armrests in carbon... no biggie.

I have decided to hold off on installing the interior parts though... don't hate... I want to purchase a new sound system for the car as well. If I get that out of the way before the installation, then I will only be tearing the car apart once vs twice which could give more opportunity for crap to break. I am having trouble deciding on which route to take though. Like I have expressed before, I really like the idea of keeping everything appearing somewhat stock upon first glance. In this state of mind, I have really considered picking up a Dynavin unit. On the other hand, I am unsure if that unit is going to make me happy. STOP STOP!!! Not trying to start a flame war and trust me, I have seen many threads about this subject turn out this way. The thing is that I realize what the unit was made for- basically giving you the stock look yet adding additional features that are not otherwise available. And I absolutely love the fact that the unit can be installed directly out of the box without having to modify the car! Fantastic! But I am afraid of making a 7-8 hundred dollar purchase then regretting it because I want more sound quality. The other unit I have been looking into is the Pioneer AVH-P8400BH. You see, I am an Apple fan and I do have an iPhone so the whole app radio thing sounds very appealing. I really like the fact that every time Apple does an update for their maps software, it is going to in turn update the navigation in my car. In addition, the sound quality is going to surpass that of the Dynavin because lets just be honest... the development on the Dynavin just wasn't steered in the direction of sound quality. Modifying my A/C duct isn't going to bother me, I'm aware that it will have to be done. On the other hand, I just don't want to wonder too far away from stock at a glance. I guess I am just going to have to ponder on it a bit more. Once again, recommendations are welcome as long as you don't declare war.

Moving on...

I made my first of many purchases from HPF It isn't a huge one but hey... stepping stones! I am aware that doing a whole bunch of modifications to the car's suspension is going to further fatigue an already flawed subframe. I dropped some cash on a set of HPF subframe reinforcement plates.
http://www.horsepowerfreaks.com/part..._Plates//13757
I am going to take the car down to Buckhead Imports down in Smyrna Georgia on Monday to have the plates installed. I have visited their site:
http://www.buckhead-imports.com
From what I can see, I am impressed. I have spoken to them over the phone and they seem to be knowledgable and overall pleasant to speak with. They claim to do these installs often (The big deciding factor for me. I don't want anyone messing with my car unless they know what they are doing) and I was told that there are a few HPF cars in the shop currently. They will be finishing up a tune throughout the weekend, so... I might make it there in time to check them out!!! They have agreed to take good pictures of the entire process, so you can count on seeing those soon!

Anyway (off the bunny trail), back to the parts. I am impressed with the quality. I am aware that Turner Motorsport also makes reinforcement plates for the same purpose and I am pretty sure they are actually a bit cheaper, but the only reason I went with the HPF plates is that apparently these are just a bit thicker... and let's just be honest... If your girl told you that thicker isn't always better... she is just trying to make you feel better...







It really doesn't show so well in the picture, but they used some pretty sturdy gauge steel with these because they are heavy and they feel like quality. I am also impressed with the cuts. It isn't exactly easy to cut steal of this gauge and these cuts are perfect, no imperfections. Im not saying that the parts from Turner Motorsport aren't cut the same way because I have not seen them, but these are certainly no exception. Worth the extra penny!

When I decided to have the plates installed on my car, I decided to go ahead and purchase new rear subframe bushings. I figured since the back end of my baby is going to be in pieces, I might as well have these replaced for just a little added labor. I ordered them with the reinforcement plates from HPF. I went with the yellow street version from Powerflex.
http://www.horsepowerfreaks.com/part...ushings//15489
I decided on the street version because, as mentioned earlier, I want a car that I am not afraid to drive on a daily basis. There is a reason that bushings are used on a car, that is, to get rid of some vibration and they are made to give a little which makes it easier on your subframe vs having your suspension bolted on directly. Kind of like having a pillow for your suspension to rest it's little head on . Race cars are usually taken apart and serviced much more than street cars which makes normal wear and tear on parts not such a big deal as they will just be replaced if needed. Well, with a street car, the car isn't disassembled quite so often which makes that added wear and tear (in my understanding, the race edition would be stiffer than the street) less than desirable.



Well anyway, thats about it for this post. I hope I didn't kill you with boredom. I am really excited about the subframe reinforcement plates being installed on Monday. If they are okay with it, I will certainly post some pictures of the shop and I will DEFINITELY be posting pictures of the installation process.

Last edited by gearhead2069; 10-27-2012 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 10-26-2012, 09:13 AM   #2
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Journal looks great. Good job and props to buying a manual!!
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Old 10-28-2012, 08:56 PM   #3
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Lookin good bro
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Old 10-28-2012, 09:05 PM   #4
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Looking good man, if you don't mind me asking where did you get the CF interior trim and for how much?
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Old 10-28-2012, 09:13 PM   #5
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Looks great. And making the right choices with the mods.
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:58 AM   #6
gearhead2069
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Originally Posted by KhanArt View Post
Looking good man, if you don't mind me asking where did you get the CF interior trim and for how much?
This link should take you to them: http://www.carbonized-bg.com/

The parts are OEM pieces that are wrapped. I know this is kind of cheating but let's be honest... There is going to be absolutely no functional advantage between wrapped parts vs carbon fabricated. This is about the only way to go without spending over 1500 bucks just to get some interior trim.

I was slightly apprehensive about ordering wrapped parts from an overseas manufacture (just because in the event that the parts didn't turn out correct, it would be a pain to get the issue corrected) but I was really impressed with the craftsmanship. The weave has absolutely no stretch or distortion and once the parts go on, there will be absolutely no difference in appearance between these parts and a set of fabricated carbon parts. Plus, I'm not going to have any fitment issues that could possibly happen with fabricated parts just because these are OEM to begin with.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:45 AM   #7
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I totally understand. I actually was thinking of wrapping my own.

Did you send your trim to them or did you buy already wrapped trim from them? How much do they charge? If it isn't that much I rather just pay them to do it.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:47 AM   #8
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:50 AM   #9
gearhead2069
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KhanArt View Post
I totally understand. I actually was thinking of wrapping my own.

Did you send your trim to them or did you buy already wrapped trim from them? How much do they charge? If it isn't that much I rather just pay them to do it.

I actually purchased them outright just so that I could keep my original (I'm funny like that).

Paid $320 plus an extra 20 in shipping. Not a bad deal at all in my opinion. I'm sure it would be less to send your own parts in.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:55 AM   #10
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That's not bad considering you got a second set of trim
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:59 PM   #11
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:02 PM   #12
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Just got back from picking up my baby!

Subframe renforcements and new Powerflex rear subframe bushings are in! I really didn't expect to notice any difference in the way the car drives just by installing the new bushings seeing how I had them replaced as a "Oh, and while you're down there" kind of thing, but after having a 3 and a half hour drive home to play, to my surprise I can. I can really tell the difference in when power is being transferred to the rear diff. It feels much more solid but without having any noticeable increase in road noise.

Anyway- a few short pictures of the installation...

Rear diff and suspension out. (HPF car in the background )





Plates in, welded, and painted.











Ahhh!!! So nice to have it back!

So... I'm just going to have to go ahead and give a shout out. I was very impressed with the customer service over at Buckhead Imports. These guys were spot on! Everyone I talked to were very knowledgable and they have previous experience with these installations. I mentioned before that the guys were great over the phone, but when I got there Jason, the president, gave me a tour of the shop and let me take a look at a few of the HPF cars they were working on. Like I said, very impressed. The car was dropped off on Monday afternoon with plans of picking it up on Wednesday. Unfortunately, there was a short delay in getting it done. Once I dropped the car off and the guys had taken the car apart, they noticed that HPF had sent two identical pieces that should have mirrored each other. The issue was handled impressively quick! They contacted HPF and had the part expedited over night (Great work between both HPF and Buckhead!). The car was finished by Thursday morning and because I had to work, they held the car in shop until I was able to get there today to pick it up. None of this was at any extra cost nor effort to me all while keeping me in the loop the entire way. Jason even gave me his personal cell phone number just in case I needed to contact him outside of business hours. I really think other shops need to take a tour of Buckhead and bring a notebook for notes on how things are supposed to be done. If you own a shop or have one you use regularly, please don't be offended by the previous statement, but shops have tried to screw me before and it freaking sucks!!! I drove 3 and a half hours to get there but knowing what I know now, I would have gone twice that distance to get the same service. In the future, if there is anything I am unable to handle myself, I'll trailer my car there before I take it elsewhere. So, if anyone needs a dependable shop and you are anywhere near or are willing to drive to Smyrna Georgia, these guys have my recommendation hands down!

Now I can move on to other modifications without fear of it being useless due to a damaged subframe!

Moving on- So, Ive been drooling over my carbon pieces! Really having to hold back ripping my interior apart multiple times (as much fun as it's going to be!). This is the reasoning for the decision to go ahead and get my sound upgrade out of the way!

I'm going to try and do a full system overhaul and I need some help with some decision making on which receiver to use. I think I am going to get some Christmas shopping done first which gives me some time to sleep on it. I have picked out a few units that I like, I just need help deciding which ones will look best and like they belong there. I keep looking into the Dynavin D99 unit, but still don't think I'm impressed. The only thing that really attracts me is the Android aspect of it just because the possibility of expanding it's capabilities, but I do not have wifi hotspot with my iPhone service, so it would end up near useless for me. I'll post a picture of the original unit in place, then pictures of it's replacements. Let me know what y'all think... which will look like it best belongs?

OEM: (This is not my unit as I do not have a nav unit in my car)



INE-S920HD- I'm really leaning toward this one. I like the buttons on the side. They are slightly reminiscent of the ones on the BMW unit.
http://www.alpine-usa.com/product/view/ine-s920hd



DNX6990HD- This one is nice because, unlike the Alpine, I can change the button color to match the amber interior lights of the car.
http://www.kenwoodusa.com/Car_Entert...tion/DNX6990HD



AVIC-Z140BH- Or should I just go with a flat clean look? Button strip along the bottom can also change illumination colors.
http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PU...on/AVIC-Z140BH



For now, please do not look nor make any decision off of specs, just aesthetics.

Ready... Set... Go...
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Old 11-04-2012, 10:21 PM   #13
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So far so good.
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Old 11-05-2012, 11:00 AM   #14
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I personally like the pioneer unit. The car looks great.
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Old 11-05-2012, 07:12 PM   #15
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Congrats on the M...your doing a great job modding.

Two questions/comments? The trim looks really good and a pretty good price, I wrapped mine and it looks good but not great. Is the trim clear coated? And also I wanted to comment on the I pod DVD head unit, I was going to get one for my girls Audi for Christmas, I really liked it but was thrown off by the reviews, the ones I read we're very bad. I just wanted to give you a heads up, so check it out.

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Old 11-06-2012, 07:44 PM   #16
gearhead2069
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmxpert86 View Post
Congrats on the M...your doing a great job modding.

Two questions/comments? The trim looks really good and a pretty good price, I wrapped mine and it looks good but not great. Is the trim clear coated? And also I wanted to comment on the I pod DVD head unit, I was going to get one for my girls Audi for Christmas, I really liked it but was thrown off by the reviews, the ones I read we're very bad. I just wanted to give you a heads up, so check it out.

The trim is clear coated and UV protected. The parts also come with a 3 year warranty (an attractive addition).

Which unit did you get poor reviews on? I'll have to check it out.

Thanks for the reply!
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Old 11-07-2012, 01:03 PM   #17
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I remember my first E46 M3, it was also Carbon Black Metallic. I love the color! I have not done the sub-frame reinforcement, but I have added lots of upgrades including engine and Navigation upgrades. Check out my garage, I did a lot of research before I did any upgrades. Good luck with everything!
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Old 11-10-2012, 03:34 PM   #18
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I am going in a different direction brakes, suspension and wheels I realy don't want to touch the exterior I just love the way the car looks as is, what ever part up grades made I will hold on to the origenal so in the fucture the change bact to stock would be easy
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Old 11-10-2012, 03:56 PM   #19
gearhead2069
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I am going in a different direction brakes, suspension and wheels I realy don't want to touch the exterior I just love the way the car looks as is, what ever part up grades made I will hold on to the origenal so in the fucture the change bact to stock would be easy
Oh, I do not disagree! I love the way the car looks. This is why I am taking the direction that I am. I want to keep everything appearing stock upon first glance. I want only the enthusiasts to be able to tell that the car has aftermarket products.
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Old 11-12-2012, 06:17 AM   #20
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great to hear, I did not want to change my factory 18" rims but wrong info from the tech that the brembo 6piston front would fit thats why I went to 19" bbs ch they actuly look like the CSL rims
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