It's no secret that the trendiest and wildest tuner cars in North America can be discovered every November at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas, NV. If you saw our coverage (et 2/06) you might have spotted one of the best-executed widebody E46 M3s yet seen in the USA. In the midst of all the Corvettes, Hondas and Hummers, we rejoiced when we stumbled upon the Kinesis Motorsport booth and found Eric Shih's 2003 M3.After interviewing Eric, we learned he's fairly new to the European car scene and it's amazing to realize this is his first project. He first got involved with Euros through his friend Sam Lee - an E36 M3 owner in the Bay Area of California. One month after buying the car, he started taking it to shows and his passion and knowledge expanded rapidly. He joined the elite TWCompetition squad and began working closely with the guys from Carrozzeria Design in Irvine, CA. With the help of his teammates and Carrozzeria Design he was able to construct his masterpiece just in time for SEMA.
It's important to understand two main themes in order to follow the creation of Eric's car. The first theme is originality. We use the word because Eric is one of the first E46 owners to apply several of the latest parts and ideas into his project. The second theme is custom. From top to bottom, Eric's car features special parts that took additional time and imagination to create. These two themes have established Eric as a trendsetter in the fast-paced E46 community.
The creation of the bodywork falls into two stages: pre-widebody and widebody. One month after purchasing the car, Eric felt a moderate amount of bodywork was required to set his M3 apart. He began with the front bumper, where he was the first to mold on a Strassentech carbon splitter. While he was molding the splitter, he decided to also mold a pair of Hamann foglight covers into the bumper. Accentuating the sides were a set of Hamann GTR carbon skirts, and again Eric was the first to own and install these composite side skirts. He went a step further by molding them to the car. Eric continued to expand on his vision by importing a rare M3 CSL rear diffuser, which was again molded in place. Eric admitted he was skeptical that all the molding was necessary but it all flowed nicely with the rest of the car.
In addition to the diffuser, he also added a genuine M3 CSL trunk lid. These are composite from the factory and include a subtle spoiler for a sporty stance. Adding extra dimension to the rear was a Strassentech carbon roof spoiler and Eric completed the first stage of his bodywork with an ATR carbon GTR race hood to give his front end more aggression. It was evident Eric had set his car apart in the E46 community, but he yearned for the "wow factor" that would put him out of reach on the show circuit and even on the street. Inevitably, he concluded a widebody was needed. "I didn't like any of the widebody kits out there because I felt they spoiled the lines of the car," Eric said. So he opted for a custom solution and it took nearly three months for the fenders, bumpers, skirts and paint to be transformed.
Beginning with the fenders, custom fiberglass flares were added to the stock fenders, 1.5" wider on the front and 2" in the rear. Both bumpers and skirts were flared to match the wider fenders and maintain the clean lines of the car. After the body modifications, Eric felt the car needed a new color to stand out. Now we should mention that Eric's original color was a subtle and elegant silver/grey metallic, so it didn't really shout loud enough. To rectify this Eric hunted for a color that would be unique not just in the E46 community, but the general tuning community as a whole. It needed to deliver an eye-catching, yet classy look.
Taking inspiration from Lamborghini, Eric sprayed the car Blue Caelum metallic - a color exclusive to the Gallardo. Not stopping with the blue, Eric sprayed the roof a shimmering black to expand on the car's individuality.The bodywork of Eric's car was finally complete but when he drove home from the shop he was still rolling on his pre-widebody wheels - a set of 19" HRE 841Rs. You can imagine how poorly they filled the new fenders but Eric was working with Kinesis Motorsport during the bodywork transformation to find a wheel that would fit the new widebody and match the new paint.
A polished or black wheel wasn't going to be enough for Eric, so Kinesis developed a set of 20x10" and 20x11.5" K1020 wheels, utilizing a black center with a blue anodized lip. After they were constructed, a set of tires from Yokohama's new Advan Sport line was mounted. And in keeping with the theme of the car, Eric was first to have the new flagship tire in 20". The fronts are a generous 255/30, while the rears measure a ridiculous 305/25.
Eric's determination to always go one step further was again evident in his braking. The front brakes were replaced with a 15" four-piston Brembo Gran Turismo Big Brake Kit; however, the rotors were swapped for the same parts used on the Le Mans racing circuit. These are apparently one of only two sets used on a street car in the world.
In order to balance the braking, a 13.6" Brembo GT kit was added to the rear, and all four calipers were painted a Lamborghini Diablo VT blue to maintain the color scheme. The suspension and engine weren't ignored either, with KW coilovers underpinning the car.
Performance has been enhanced with the newest Dixis Titanium Race exhaust. It weighs just 12 lb and boasts 80mm titanium tips. Under the hood, a GruppeM carbon intake replaces the stock airbox.The interior wasn't about to be overlooked, and it's awash with carbon and suede. While importing CSL parts from Europe, he acquired CSL carbon door panels and then a titanium/carbon dash trim kit. Furthermore, a pair of Status Racing Ring carbon seats was added on custom Status subframes. The Status seats were reupholstered in dark blue alcantara, while the headliner and pillars were trimmed in matching black and blue suede.
A company called Traffic Jamz executed the final and inevitable ingredient in a show car. They added an Eclipse nav head unit and to retain the factory appearance they constructed a panel to sit the monitor flush in the console. A slimline PS2 is housed in the glovebox.
The sound quality was taken to competition standard with a lineup of Diamond Audio products. This included Hex 5.25" speakers, powered by a D6 amplifier. Adding bass are two D6 12D4 subwoofers that are powered by two D6 mono amps. This impressive visual display and audio performance landed his car in the Diamond Audio booth at the '05 Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.
By the time you see Eric's car again he'll probably have more "firsts" and since he plans to attend all the west coast shows this year (including events in California, Washington, Nevada and Arizona) it means many of us will have a chance to see this extraordinary M3 in person.
Eric Homshao Shih
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
2003 BMW M3 E46
ENGINE: 3.2 liter straight six 24v with GruppeM carbon fiber intake, Dixis Titanium Race exhaust with four 80mm tailpipes
DRIVELINE: Rogue Engineering short shift kit and weighted selector rod
SUSPENSION: KW Variant 2 coilovers
WHEELS & TIRES: 20x10" (front) and 20x11.5" (rear) Kinesis Motorsport K1020 wheels, 255/30-20 (front) and 305/25-20 (rear) Yokohama Advan Sport tires
BRAKES: 380mm (front) and 345mm (rear) Brembo Gran Turismo Big Brake Kit with four-piston calipers painted blue, custom Le Mans GT front rotors
EXTERIOR: 1.5" front and 2" rear customs flares with modified bumpers and skirts, Strassentech carbon fiber front splitter molded to bumper, Strassentech carbon roof spoiler, M3 CSL trunk lid and molded rear diffuser, carbon Hamann GTR skirts molded to car, ATR carbon GTR Race hood, carbon M3 side grilles, Hamann ducts molded into front bumper, roof painted black, car painted Gallardo Blue Caelum metallic
INTERIOR: Status Racing Ring seats in carbon/alcantara with custom subframes, Schroth Rallye 4 harnesses, M3 CSL carbon door panels, titanium/carbon dash trim, Dixis titanium pedals, custom blue/black suede headliner, pillars, rear seat center panels, e-brake and shift boot, OEM Euro center tray
AUDIO/VISUAL: Eclipse AVN-5424 double-DIN CD/DVD/nav in custom panel, two Diamond Audio D6 mono amps, Diamond D6 600 four-channel amp, Diamond Hex 5.25" speakers, two Diamond Audio D6 12D4 subs, custom free-air enclosure in trunk, Eclipse CD changer, three 1farad capacitors, PS2 in glovebox
THANKS: friends & family, TWCompetition, Carrozzeria Design, Traffic Jamz, Yokohama Tires, Kinesis Motorsport