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1999 BMW M3

Yellow Streak

Cullen Clutterham
Mar 1, 2001
Photographer: MAX Staff

It takes a lot of courage to drive a yellow car. As an owner, you’re always wondering whose attention the color is grabbing. On the freeway, you’re leery of cresting the speed limit for fear that there will be a cop waiting just around the corner to tag you. When you go to catch the latest flick at the Ultra Giga-Cineplex, you’re constantly questioning whether or not your alarm will work and your car will be there, unharmed, when you return. Arnaldo Carvalho seems to be free of any trepidation, however. When you get near his ’99 BMW M3, it seems to exude a vibe that sends those looking to ticket or damage the driver, or the beast, running for whatever hole they crawled out of with their tail tucked safely between their legs. It’s this vibe that makes the car such a stunner. Previously, Arnaldo was the owner of a ’97 Audi A4 1.8T quattro, a very capable car. However, like it does to so many people, the M3 called him. Needless to say, it was the vibe. That same vibe also pushed him to modify the car, asking him to bring out the beast.

The first visible change to the car was the installation of the Bilstein coilovers. Automotive Services installed the suspension, so the front was lowered 2.5 inches and the rear dropped 1.5 inches, making the E-36 M3 look always ready to pounce on its next victim. The Bilstein setup not only allows for the adjustment of the spring tension and ride height, but the dampening of the struts can also be adjusted for the double-duty the car pulls as both track monster and street demon. On the track, the M3 wears the shoes it had on the day it rolled off the assembly line. The stock 17x8 and 17x8.5-inch M3 wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport tires help the M3 get back to its racing roots on the weekends. The wheels that it wears on the street, however, add to this M3’s ferocious vibe. The weekday shoes are Hamann PG2s measuring 19x8.5 at all four corners, wearing 235/35-19 Yokohama AVS Sport rubber.

The growl that emanates from the hood at wide-open throttle comes from the addition of the R.S. Akimoto E-36 M3-specific intake, and a Mozart after-cat exhaust with dual DTM-style tips in the rear as a counterpart. We’ve been told the sound of the motor gives the children in Arnaldo’s neighborhood recurring nightmares and has driven off quite a bit of the wildlife. The combo is definitely good for some additional horsepower and torque, as they allow the heavy-breathing 3.2L heart of the M3 to take and expel its breath with ease—bark and bite in a very tempting package.

While 0–60 times are one of the M3’s strong suits, Arnaldo sought to improve it beyond what the intake and exhaust achieved, and thus added a UUC Motorwerks Ultimate short shifter. The shifter shortens the throw length by 30 percent and leaves those brave enough to rev on the yellow M3 wondering what happened.

With all these parts installed, the M3 is capable of tearing through corners and shredding straight-aways in the blink of an eye. In that blink, you’ll realize that the already attention-grabbing color of the car has been modified with the addition of a very aggressive-looking body kit. Randy Principally, at Kurz Motorsports Paint, is credited with color-matching the Zeemax front and rear bumper replacements and rear wing. The otherworldly look of the bumpers enhances the bestial feeling one gets when he accidentally stumbles across the car parked in a dark lot. The bumpers may make you uneasy, but the Kamei headlight trim makes you glad that the mechanical animal doesn’t have teeth. All the body mods, combined with the lowered stance, the engine and drivetrain modifications, the grippy wheel and tire package, and the factory yellow paint, give onlookers the idea that if the car could speak it would say, “Yes, I can, and yes, I will.”

What’s today’s lesson then? Don’t judge a car by its color. While yellow paint by itself may bring to mind a worrisome owner, the total package before you should make you tremble in fear. Arnaldo’s yellow M3 truly is a lean, mean machine. So, when you see a yellow blur coming up fast in your rear view, hold your breath, and maybe it won’t chew you up and spit you out. Oh, and just like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future, don’t EVER call it chicken.

By Cullen Clutterham
33 Articles

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