A lot goes through a driver's mind when they're flat-out through turn 10 at Buttonwillow Raceway (AKA the Truck Stop). It's a wickedly fast right-hander that can only be taken at WOT in the best sorted cars, especially when the car in question carries the kind of corner speed a 570whp E92 M3 is capable of.
Get it right, and it's oh so rewarding, but get it wrong, even by only a few inches, and you'll end up in a blur of apologies and excuses. It's the kind of corner that separates the men from the boys, and real performance shops from the many pretenders.
To say european auto source (EAS) is hell-bent on performance perfection would be an understatement. If a new part or further adjustments can result in improved lap times, EAS will test it, even if it takes a weekend of hot lapping in search of another 0.1sec.
"We bought the M3 with the sole purpose of testing our own products and other companies' parts to ensure they delivered what is claimed. It's really important to us that our customers know what they're buying," said Tom Guagliardo, CEO of EAS. "All our hard work, testing and track days pay off when we can tell our customers, based on firsthand knowledge, which parts are good for the dyno, around a racetrack or on the street."
Want to know what that big wing or splitter did to the chassis in terms of lap times and g-force? They can tell you. How about suspension settings, alignment and brake pad compounds? Yep, they've also got that locked down, as well as roll-bar fitments, wheel studs, spacers, etc, etc.
As performance-oriented as EAS might be, the company's roots are in OEM electronic integration. "We got our start on the integration side with the first iPod interface for the BMW factory head unit. My background was in CAN-BUS, I-BUS and factory nav systems, which led to many new parts and even conversion updates, swapping newer OEM electronics into older models, etc. It's amazing what can be done if new electronic packages can communicate with the OEM BMW systems," Guagliardo said.
Speaking of amazing, have a close look at the M3. How's that for purpose built? Not one piece was added for bling or street cred. If a part didn't make the car lighter, faster or more powerful, it was scrapped.
Which leads us to the EAS standard-issue Volk wheels - in this case, 18x9.5" front and 18x10.5" rear TE37 SuperLap Matte Black Edition wrapped in sticky Hankook RS-3 tires with Macht Schnell Competition wheel studs. "This car has used several prototype Volk wheels since we have a close partnership with Volk Japan because they make great wheels that are light and strong," Guagliardo said. So we can thank EAS for helping turn JDM wheels on a BMW from sacrilege to mainstay.
Of course, if you've noticed the Volks you've also seen the AP Racing six-piston calipers with 368mm rotors and Project Mu pads... Such binders are needed when you have 570whp pushing 3650 lb. But what you won't have seen is the KW Motorsport two-way adjustable coilovers with camber plates and Powerflex bushings. "We run the two-ways on the street but the three-ways on the track because they're better suited to lapping for such a heavy, fast car. But the two-ways are better for spirited street driving," Guagliardo confirmed.
There's that word again, fast, and the M3 encapsulates the term thanks to an ESS Tuning VT2-625 intercooled supercharger kit. With supporting roles from Awron velocity stacks and an Akrapovic Evolution titanium exhaust, it adds up to 572hp and 383 lb-ft at the rear wheels with 8psi of boost and pump gas. Of course, the stock DCT transmission was fortified with ESS Tuning GTS Race software.
"We experimented with keeping the supercharged engine cool during extended track use and found that water injection on the intercooler did wonders for keeping the IATs at bay," Guagliardo said.
Speaking of monitoring intake air temps, the S65 4.0L V8 was never intended for boost, so monitoring the temperature can be tricky. But Awron CNC-machined aluminum velocity stacks replace the factory throttle body, adding a port for an Awron gauge to monitor temps or for the water/methanol injection systems.
Forum experts might deem a supercharged E9X M3 unfit for track duty, but EAS has proven the combo can survive a 20min thrash without issues. "After our custom water-injection was fitted, the supercharger was no longer a problem for extended WOT hot laps. Instead, it's the E9X M3's oil temp issues that eventually bring us back into the pits," Guagliardo told us.
If you haven't spotted the theme, it's function over form, and the APR GT-250 adjustable carbon fiber rear wing works with a Vorsteiner GTS-V front lip and rear diffuser to add downforce and look pretty badass as well.
"The rear wing and front splitter really added to the aero efficiency and resulted in a lot more suspension tuning to compensate for the additional downforce. After lots of R&D we found the right combination that allowed us to finish in the top five during our first entry into last year's Super Lap Battle," Guagliardo said.
For those unaware: finishing that high on their first attempt in SLB speaks volumes about their commitment to perfection, since big tuning companies come from all over the world to compete in the prestigious event, many of which have been at it for years.
While the VS Motorsports GTS-style bolt-in cage uses factory mounting points and somewhat steals the show inside, you shouldn't overlook the Recaro Pole Position seats or Awron Kompressor 1 OLED vent gauge. "The Awron gauge is an amazing piece that communicates with the BMW CAN-BUS system and perfectly fits in the vent space. It reads all sorts of parameters and is really trick," Guagliardo enthused.
Plenty of Macht Schnell goodies also found their way into the mix, as well as a BMW M Performance steering wheel, bmwpedals shifter paddles and several BMW Motorsport parts. The result is a race-ready cockpit tailored for hours of hot lapping.
"We've tested so many parts on this car that it's hard to remember them all. We're at the track two or three weekends each month either testing parts or competing in events across the West Coast," Guagliardo said.
Sticking with the BMW coupe theme, what sits before you is a 3100 lb Bavarian bullet that packs 464hp and 317 lb-ft at the wheels. "My partner Steve Lee bought the Z4 M Coupe brand new with the same intentions as the M3: to R&D parts and hit the track as often as possible," Tom continued.
It might be fast, but it's also relatively rare. Have you seen many in person? Less than 400 white examples are known to exist - that's it!
Under the long hood lies the S54 inline-six, force-fed 9psi of boost by an ESS Tuning VT2-525 intercooled supercharger with a matching ESS oil cooler, Macht Schnell Motorsport Performance headers, Arqray titanium exhaust and a Snow Performance methanol injection kit. "The straight-six is a wonderful motor and, with the supercharger and ancillary mods, it's startlingly fast, especially on track," Guagliardo said.
Built for track use, it sports StopTech six-piston calipers with 355mm rotors and Project Mu pads, which Tom regards as "one of the best upgrades" made to the Z4M because the stock brakes weren't up to track use.
These are used in harmony with AST 4200 two-way adjustable coilovers that utilize Swift springs, Vorshlag camber plates and Powerflex bushings. The car is also fitted with 19x9.5" front and 19x10.5" rear Rays 57 Motorsport G07EX wheels, wrapped in Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires.
On the topside, an APR GT-300 carbon adjustable rear wing and Performance front lip contribute downforce, while Recaro Pole Position seats and plenty of Macht Schnell interior pieces hold the driver for the ride of his life.
"We're still playing with suspension pieces and settings, but we've got some big plans that involve a motor swap from another BMW we're very familiar with," Guagliardo said.
Oh the possibilities... and if that's not proof european auto source is hell-bent on performance perfection, we don't know what is.
Roll-bar and Recaro seats dominate the interior of the M3 but Awron gauge is equally crucial
2011 BMW M3
CEO, european auto source
Engine S65 4.0L V8 with ESS VT2-625 supercharger and intercooler, Awron velocity stack, Akrapovic Evolution titanium exhaust system
Drivetrain seven-speed DCT transmission, ESS GTS Race transmission software
Brakes AP Racing six-piston calipers, 368mm rotors f, Project Mu pads, Motul 660 fluid
Suspension KW Motorsport two-way adjustable coilovers, camber plates, Powerflex bushings
Wheels & Tires 18x9.5" ET22 f, 18x10.5" ET22 r Volk TE37 SuperLap Matte Black Edition wheels, Macht Schnell Competition wheel stud conversion, 265/35 R18 f, 285/35 R18 r Hankook RS-3 tires
Exterior Vorsteiner GTS-V carbon fiber front lip and rear diffuser, APR GT-250 carbon fiber adjustable rear wing, Lamin-x Le Mans Yellow headlight film, 3500K angel eye bulbs, Macht Schnell Competition tow strap
Interior Recaro Pole Position seats, Macht Schnell floor mounts and hardware, Awron Kompressor 1 OLED vent gauge, Macht Schnell ashtray gauge mount with Stack gauges, Schroth harnesses, VS Motorsports harness bar, BMW M Performance steering wheel, bmwpedals extended shift paddles and pedals, BMW 1M power steering reservoir, BMW Motorsport door sills
Thanks europeanautosource.com, Akrapovic, Awron, Rays Wheels, Macht Schnell, ESS Tuning, Recaro, bmwpedals, APR Performance, Berk Technology, Vorsteiner, KW Suspension
2008 BMW Z4 M Coupe
CEO, european auto source
Engine S54 3.2L straight-six with ESS VT2-525 supercharger, intercooler and oil cooler, Macht Schnell Motorsport Performance headers, Arqray titanium exhaust, Snow Performance methanol injection
Drivetrain six-speed manual transmission
Brakes StopTech six-piston calipers, 355mm rotors f, Project Mu pads, Motul 660 fluid
Suspension AST 4200 two-way adjustable coilovers, Swift springs, Vorshlag camber plates, Powerflex bushings
Wheels & Tires 19x9.5" ET25 f, 19x10.5" ET25 r Rays 57 Motorsport G07EX wheels, Macht Schnell Competition wheel studs, 245/35 R19 f, 275/30 R19 r Bridgestone Potenza RE-11 tires
Exterior APR carbon fiber Performance front lip and GT-300 adjustable rear wing, Macht Schnell Competition tow strap
Interior Recaro Pole Position seats, Macht Schnell floor mounts and hardware, BMW M Performance steering wheel, bmwpedals pedals, Macht Schnell MS97 shift knob, Momo steering wheel, Works Bell quick-release hub
Thanks europeanautosource.com, Arqray, Rays Wheels, Macht Schnell, ESS Tuning, Recaro, APR Performance, Berk Technology