Engine: S85B50 5.0-litre V10
Transmission: E90 M3 ZF six-speed manual gearbox conversion
Suspension: Nitron NTR R3 remote reservoir coilovers
Brakes: Alcon Mono6 six-pot callipers up front; Alcon Mono4 four-pot rear callipers
Wheels & tyres: BMW BBS wheels / Toyo R888R tyres
This M3 V10 is company owner Tom’s labour of love. And by labour of love we mean he seems to love paying lots in labour on it. Many different people’s labour. Indeed, the project has turned into what seems like a valiant yet futile attempt to build the ultimate E46. Ok, perhaps it’s not that bad, but it’s certainly proved to be more of a challenge than he could’ve reasonably expected. And the bit about the labour is definitely true.
Tom bought the M3 with an S85 already installed by the previous owner. A part-finished project, he assumed this would be the easiest, quickest and most economical way of creating his dream E46. How tremendously wrong he was to be proved…
Essentially, he had purchased a collection of parts that happened to be installed in approximately the correct locations. The SMG shifter wasn’t attached, wires were dangling all over the place and the engine didn’t start. All solid signs that there was plenty of work to be done, but nothing that couldn’t be fixed with a bit of time and expert know-how, he thought. Well, it has since taken four years and numerous people to skilfully not finish the project, so he was clearly wrong on some level.
Custom stainless-steel intakes with ITG Maxogen filters
Standard twin-core radiator and Mishimoto oil cooler on custom bracket
S85B50 5.0-litre V10
2005 BMW E46 M3 V10
Two steps forward…
To be fair, Tom has managed to push the project on from its barely-half-finished, dubious quality state into what is now approaching a well-sorted monster of a car that’s – whisper it – close to being finished. And a fair amount had to happen to get it this far. If you imagine a stock M3 with an S85 loosely slotted in the engine bay then you’ve basically got the starting point of the project.
First of all, presentation has been improved considerably, with the car getting a respray in the ever-popular Nardo Grey. Tom’s also added all the CSL replica body parts you see, including the BBS rims (genuine, he insists!). The car came in full road spec, with a complete interior, so it was out with the creature comforts and in with the custom-made GRID roll cage and track day essentials such as the Sparco bucket seats. There’s a bit more to do yet on the inside, but it’s getting there.
One step back…
The E46 has also been fitted out with an array of top-line suspension, brake and drivetrain components since Tom got his hands on it. Items like the all-sing-all-dancing, fully adjustable Nitron coilovers, huge Alcon front and rear brake kits and E90 M3 ZF six-speed manual shifting through a Coolerworx short-throw shifter tower ensure the driving experience isn’t totally dominated by that V10 engine, either on an emotional or dynamic level. This car will – hopefully! – deliver on all fronts.
We say totally dominated because, whatever happens, the V10 will always rule to some extent. And that’s how it should be, after all the effort that’s gone into installing it. Custom-made engine subframe and engine mounts were done by the previous owner, and there are also custom ancillary mountings and steering components (a current work in progress). Even the engine itself has had its fair share of problems, after it detonated on the rollers at West Tuning (sorry, Ray). A far healthier replacement S85 has now been installed. So yeah, it’s not exactly been plain sailing.
The next chapter
Tom’s made things a little easier for himself by choosing to turn the M3 into a track car, at least. There’s no need for any emissions equipment to complicate matters. There are no driver aids, aside from ABS, that need wiring and programming in. There are no air-conditioning components to take up valuable engine bay space. And there’s basically no interior apart from a set of clocks and a few switches. Most of the warning light bulbs can be taken out and ignored, in other words.
There was once talk of the car receiving a flat underbody, complementary aero on top and a whole host of modifications to make it even more extreme. Now, however? Frankly, we’d just be happy to see it complete in its current guise and moving under its own steam again. Hopefully, we’ll have a reason to update this page soon…
Be sure to check back regularly for potentially very infrequent updates