I'm sure we've all had that cab ride from hell, where the driver disregards speed limits, traffic signs, and common sense to reach your destination while arguing on the phone with the dispatcher. It's an unpleasant experience, leaving you sweaty and shaken—but it doesn't have to be like that. BC Racing and its 700hp 2008 BMW M3 showcased it's take on how a taxi driver should carry himself, as seen with the build here.
The original French Taxi movie franchise (written by Luc Besson, starring Samy Naceri—not the appalling Jimmy Fallon/Queen Latifah remake!) illustrated that a skilled driver in the right machine could get you to your appointment in the minimum time with maximum proficiency. And while most of us are nervous passengers by default, all of us can appreciate a skilled driver.
Pete Melian, owner of suspension specialists BC Racing in Oviedo, Florida, is no different from the rest of us, and was in a position to have some fun with the concept of a well-driven taxi when he was approached by one of his sponsored drivers.
You see, Philip Grabow from road-race prep specialists Element Tuning was in a pickle. He was leading the U.S. Time Trial Championship when his regular race car caught fire and was burnt beyond quick repair. All he needed was to score points at the next race and the 2013 TTU class title would be his. So a call was placed to Pete to discover what might be lying around. By chance, Pete had his '08 BMW M3 in the workshop. Originally Frozen Silver, it had been treated to a number of tasty modifications, not least of which included a Gen 2 Level 3 supercharger kit from Miami specialists Active Autowerke.
This is Active's most powerful E9X M3 blower kit, boasting a substantial 700 hp and 480 lb-ft at 9 psi from the Rotrex C38-92 supercharger. The blower is mounted using a machined bracket and uses a dedicated drivebelt system, rather than sharing the car's accessory belt.
The Rotrex has its own oil supply, and Active gave it a separate oil cooler to keep temperatures under control during the harshest conditions. The company also fitted a front-mount intercooler to cool the charge air once it entered through the dedicated cold-air intake.
Compressed air passes into the large Active plenum chamber and is evenly distributed to the eight velocity stacks. The air is mixed with extra fuel from the large Bosch Motorsport injectors, at a rate determined by the custom software developed in-house by Active for the M3's ECU.
AA's own bypass and blow-off valves create a lot of hissing and whooshing as they bleed off boost when the driver lifts his foot. And to avoid detonation on low-grade fuel or at high temps, the Level 3 system comes with water/methanol injection as extra insurance. The performance increase was nothing short of astonishing. On first acquaintance, it's one of those conversions that almost feel as if it has too much power. Of course, that's not possible, but it was insanely fast and very loud with the X-pipe and blow-off valves.
Pete originally bought the M3 because his company offers a full range of suspension kits. While catering to a wide number of vehicles, he has a soft spot for BMWs, as does his development and test driver, Chelsea Denofa, a man who has run most versions of the 3 Series in the Formula Drift championship.
BC Racing prides itself on offering custom suspension setups for individual vehicles, developing each coilover kit for its intended application. Whether its street or track, the company has driven the car under those conditions and valved the dampers to suit. BC Racing can also provide custom springs and will revalve the dampers if you require. All the dampers are fully rebuildable, so they are ideal for track day or club motorsport drivers.
For his personal M3, Pete fitted the top-of-the-range BC Racing ER Type coilovers. These have a twin-piston design, with larger external fluid reservoirs to control heat, as well as separate 30-way rebound and compression adjustment to allow for fine-tuning. In fact, the reservoirs house the secondary piston that controls the compression damping. These particular coilovers also have a Swift Spring upgrade, an optional extra that gives customers access to a wide range of quality coil springs.
With its track chassis, Pete stuck with 18-inch wheels to give himself the widest possible selection of tires—in this instance choosing semi-slick Toyo R888 rubber. The Toyos are mounted on BC Forged TM14 wheels. These are from a one- and two-piece wheel range. It was originally developed by BC Racing but is now distributed by PYSpeed as BCR continues to concentrate on its suspension systems. The two-piece wheels are manufactured from aircraft-grade T6061 aluminum and custom-made to individual specifications using a concave spoke design, although other designs are available.
When Phil came looking for a race car, we were surprised to learn Pete volunteered his 700hp E90 M3. The guy clearly has a sense of humor—he decided to wrap the silver paintwork in bright yellow 3M vinyl and apply taxi checkers to the side: a job he did himself over the course of three days with company General Manager Tim Griffith.
The result is a machine that might rival the thrill factor of BMW's own Nürburgring Taxi fleet. In fact, the team even added a taxi pricing structure to the doors, charging 50 cents per quarter-mile, or $3 per lap.
With a taxi light added to the roof for our photos, Phil proceeded to finish second at the last race of the 2013 season at Sebring, claiming the USTT TTU championship. In fact, you can see the story unfold in the exclusive video shot for us by BCR's marketing manager, Cody Slack. It recounts Phil's request and Pete's loan of his M3. The video is online at europeancarweb.com and well worth a visit.
As a final thought, Cody reported that several unsuspecting people actually tried to hail this taxi while it was being shot on the local streets. Apparently one guy went running over to it but changed his mind when he saw what he was about to step into—that was probably a very wise decision!