Meet BimmerWorld's No-Holds-Barred M3

By Tom Suddard
Apr 19, 2018 | BMW | Posted in Features | From the Oct. 2014 issue | Never miss an article

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In the world of track cars, there are generally two types: those that are pretty, and those that are fast. There’s a certain level of grit and sloppiness required in a vehicle that spends its days tailgating at 150 mph, sliding through the marbles, and being pushed to the ragged edge around every corner.

Or is there? James Clay, the owner of BMW tuning house BimmerWorld, has consistently shown that a beautiful track car isn’t necessarily slow. To prove his point, he brought the shop’s test mule, an E92-chassis BMW M3, to our Ultimate Track Car Challenge at Virginia International Raceway last July. How’d he do? Well–very well. The M3 beat heavily modified cars from the likes of Porsche, Lamborghini and Viper.

The first surprise? This car has quite a competition resumé. It was one of the first E92-chassis M3s in the country–and since its arrival, it’s been busy. When still bone-stock, James ran it against our 335i project car, with the shootout appearing in our May 2010 issue. Our modded, turbocharged BMW held its own, lapping VIR in 2:17.833. James needed 2:17.845 to lap VIR in his M3. We’d call that a dead heat. Since then, the M3 has been a tuned street car, a development car for streetand performance parts, a Grand-Am race car, and a development mule for BimmerWorld’s racing components.

Perhaps the most unusual modification is the addition of wide-body flares by Bassen Autobody. Though it’s still in the prototype stage, eventually the tire-gobbling bodywork will be available to consumers.

How much tire does this M3 gobble? The car has 18x12-inch Forgeline GA3R wheels in the rear, and the front wheels are a half-inch narrower. The rears are wrapped in 320-width Hoosier R100 slicks, with 305-width slicks in the front. The result? A lot of traction. This is the sort of vehicle that waits outside the high school parking lot and beats up other cars for their grip.

Now, we’d usually start talking about suspension bushings, but that’s a tough order when discussing this BMW. BimmerWorld replaced all the bushings with solid mounts and bearings. While they were in there, they also corrected the stock suspension geometry, raising the roll center to make up for the lowered suspension. Motion Control Suspension 3-Way dampers keep everything in check.

The fancy suspension and aircraft-sized tires are impressive, sure–but what track car doesn’t have a wing? In addition to all the mechanical grip, the BimmerWorld M3 has a carbon fiber wing, splitter and front whiskers. To save weight, the hood and trunk lid are also made of carbon fiber. How does this translate? Enough downforce to keep the car pointed in the right direction, plus a 3000-pound curb weight–including the driver. Yes, this modern, “bloated” M3 weighs about as much as the average E30-chassis BMW.

Onto the fun stuff–the drivetrain. Expecting some sort of radically modified, fire-breathing V8? Good. That’s exactly what lies under the hood. The stock 4-liter has been stroked to 4.6 liters and treated to ported heads, uprated cams, headers, a dry sump oiling system and a Bosch Motorsport ECU. Red Line Oil keeps everything lubricated. The result is 550 horsepower and 500 ft.-lbs. of torque.

How does all this power get to the wheels? Through a Drenth six-speed sequential gearbox. (You didn’t think they’d leave the transmission stock, did you?) Besides improving reliability and lap times, this gearbox makes people happy. As James puts it, “Shifting gears just brings a smile to my face–made even bigger by the whine as it moves down the straights or through the paddock.” Performance Friction brakes haul the BMW to a stop, helped out by a race-calibrated ABS system.

Lots of grip, lots of power, lots of clever upgrades and very little weight. Does that mean this M3 is the Ultimate Track Car? Actually, no–it placed sixth overall, running a 1:56.5-second lap at Virginia International Raceway’s full course. That’s about 20 seconds quicker per pass than the stock version of the same car.

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View comments on the GRM forums
rothwem New Reader
4/19/18 1:33 p.m.

Sounds like an awesome car.  What did they do to correct the roll center?  With the double/virtual pivot front knuckle, I can imagine it'd be tricky to try to correct roll center since there's a lot going on there.  Did they fabricate custom arms?

This is where I make an awkward joke about wanting to check out her undercarriage.  

jamesclay New Reader
4/22/18 6:18 p.m.

In reply to rothwem :

We sell a standard kit on our website.  This car got a little more love that also addressed Ackerman issues.

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