The Other Side of Japanese BMW Culture

The Other Side of Japanese BMW Culture

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Over last week or so I’ve shown you two different takes on the E46 M3, and now it’s time to wrap up this mini-series with a look at the final car that unexpectedly showed up in Odaiba.

The E92 M3 has quickly become a popular choice for Japanese track racing enthusiasts with a penchant for European performance cars. Every time I visit SunBeam in Tokyo and Studie AG in Yokohama they each have a ton of them in for setup and service. Their affordability now is one of the reasons why, and the E92’s hard revving naturally aspirated engine is another. Ultimately, this is a rewarding car to play around with.

But despite this particular E92 M3 having a proper 6-speed manual gearbox and a nice selection of tuning parts, it’s anything but track focused.

As is the case with the E46s – one living the static life and the other living a life on air – this E92’s owner set out to create something unique that could be used on the street, and daily if required.

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And as I’m sure you can gather from the ride height, or lack of thereof, this one’s also riding on air. If you’re building a car for looks, you just can’t beat what a modern air suspension system can bring to the table. It really is a case of having the best of both worlds.

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I’ll touch more on that shortly, but for now let’s admire the creative way that this E92 has been visually enhanced. It has real presence, but the owner didn’t need to go overboard with modifications to achieve it.

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If there is one thing even that even BMW’s performance variants don’t quite get right it’s the front end look. I like most front bumper designs that feature on M cars – they’re usually the most daring part of the exterior – but they always seem to lack a proper lip spoiler. BMW probably doesn’t go there as they know these would get damaged easily, but luckily the aftermarket steps in to put things right. For this build, the owner has gone with a carbon fiber Kohlenstoff piece, which wraps itself around the center section of the factory bumper quite nicely, while effortlessly integrating a protruding chin.

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No matter which part of this car you look at first, your eyes always end up at the wheels. It’s not the design of the 19-inch Pokal GRB02s that does it, but rather the choice of color: bright copper over brushed aluminum. The depth provides a great effect and strangely complements the BMW Individual ‘Messing Metallic’ paint, possibly one of the nicest colors the German automaker has ever come up with.

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This thing was an absolute joy to shoot; it looks sensational from every angle, and little details like the gold stickers make it even cooler.

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Behind the front wheels’ mesh centers you can just make out the Rotora calipers. The owner commented that although the factory brakes had good feel and progression, they were just not up to the task of repeated high speed stops.

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The Duke Dynamics E46 CSL-inspired trunk lid gives a very different look and feel for the rear. It’s cleanly integrated and just the right height to make a difference.

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Add some carbon fiber side skirts and rear bumper finisher from Varis to the equation and you have an M3 that’s done just right.

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Suspension wise, the E92 rides on Air Lift Performance adjustable shocks and 3H-controlled air bags, but further work has been done to tighten up the way the car feels through the bends starting with MachtSchnell solid mounts for the subframes and Tuner Race solid diff mounts. These along with aFe sway bars have transformed how the car feels by completely removing any slack and delay in feedback and response when driven hard. It’s always great to hear how individual owners fine tune their cars.

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Which brings us to the engine itself.

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You either love BMW’s 414hp S65, or you don’t. It’s a somewhat small displacement, naturally aspirated 90-degree V8 motor, so you can imagine the characteristics right off the bat. You have rev it for it to reward, and that’s both good and bad. The good is that it sounds glorious; it revs for days – all the way to 8,300rpm – and has linear power delivery which is something you can rely on at the track. The downside is that it’s a bit gutless at anything under 4,000rpm; the 295lb-ft of torque never feels like it’s enough.

To get the best out of it, an aFe airbox and intake system was thrown on, boosting the potential volume of air that can be sucked in at any RPM and enhancing the induction roar in the process.

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But the real party piece is the Kreissieg ‘F1 Sound’ Valvetronic exhaust.

There’s no point in me trying to craft some words to attempt to tell you how it sounds when you can just hit play above.

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The unconventional approach extends inside the E92 where performance meets comfort.

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The Recaro seats – an RS-G for the driver and SR-6 for the front passenger – have been custom trimmed in light tan leather, and there’s even M logos stitched into the headrest sections.

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The rear seat is trimmed the same, but it’s pretty much rendered unusable by the half roll cage. You have to love the way the tubing is painted in the same copper hue as the wheels.

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Some touches are easier to spot than others, like the billet green shift knob and the Ultra gear selector indicator atop the steering column trim.

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All three of the cars were rocking Renown wheels, this one being a 130R Motorsport variant.

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The Air Lift Performance 3H controller is mounted within easy reach, and controls the neatly-mounted dual compressor setup in the trunk.

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We love variety here at Speedhunters and spending an afternoon with these three M3s was quite an eye opener. On top of meeting some very cool guys, I got to see what this other side of Japanese BMW culture is all about.

Dino Dalle Carbonare
Instagram: speedhunters_dino
dino@speedhunters.com

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