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In a strange merging of ideologies, we discover a BMW M3 CSL built for Time Attack events in Japan.

Roel F. Concepcion
Mar 1, 2006
Photographer: Henry Z. DeKuyper
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Time Attack has a very high profile at the moment. It's on an unstoppable path to hit the mainstream like the sport of drifting. Already popular in Japan, Time Attack has produced some of the fastest cars ever built because the objective is to beat the clock on a single lap, and the American tuning community is taking notice. Tuners recognize this type of racing requires the ultimate in driver skill and tuning. While wheel-to-wheel racing provides the thrill of the chase, Time Attack offers a more profound competition against time.

Companies like Stasis and Turner Motorsports have cars that are successful at Time Attack but were never built solely for that purpose. They tune cars to run fast on tracks around the nation. And while proper suspension setup, aerodynamics and power-to-weight ratio are important, the concentration of the driver to achieve the perfect apex and skillful braking is essential.

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Red Hot Company is an up-and-coming tuner in Japan specializing in BMW performance. It recently entered the Time Attack scene with its extremely fast 2004 BMW M3 CSL. To be precise, the car was actually born a standard M3 but the company converted it to CSL spec, which included many of the carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body and engine parts. The CSL name is synonymous with speed, perhaps second only to the GTR designation, which is considered the fastest of the M3 specials. This particular CSL made its Stateside debut at the annual Super Street/ eurotuner Time Attack event at Buttonwillow Raceway, CA (et 2/06). It was the unanimous European favorite at the event, with spectators awed by its speed and beauty.

The CSL harks back to the heritage and success of BMW's lightweight touring coupes in the '70s. It's an automotive masterpiece created by the engineers at BMW to exhibit the manufacturer's reputation for providing thoroughbred sports cars. The M3 CSL is known for being lighter than a regular M3, making it more nimble on the street and track. However, it's not just weight that separates the CSL from its closest relative. With its power-to-weight ratio of 7.7 lb/hp, the CSL is the sweetest M3 yet created. The tragedy is that it never officially came to America.

Red Hot Company already owned an M3. Not wanting to get rid of it they converted the car to CSL spec. They slapped on everything from the muscular front air dam to the newly-designed trunk lid. The only part that didn't make the conversion was the carbon fiber roof. But, of course, the added weight of the steel roof was compensated for with extensive aftermarket work.

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With the help of US wheel distributor Mackin Industries, this CSL was shipped from Japan to America for the SEMA show (et 2/06) and then made it out to Buttonwillow for Time Attack.

Under the hood is the 3.2 CSL engine, which runs 360hp in stock form. Featuring an extremely large intake and huge carbon fiber air collector, this intake system allows the engine to breathe deeply, allowing the valve duration to be increased on the cams.

A stock CSL can go from 0 to 60 mph in just under five seconds. Naturally, Red Hot's version is faster than that. Boosting power is a Dixis titanium exhaust system, accompanied by a robust Dixis header. Red Hot also upgraded the fuel lines and pumps to increase the flow to the injectors.

All this horsepower is transferred to the ground by an OS Giken twin-plate clutch and Super Lock LSD.Under the chassis sit a set of Dixis race-spec coilovers. The system makes the ride stiff to the core, providing maximum rigidity through the bends. The suspension is assisted by a full rollcage and front chassis bracing from a German BMW GT racecar.

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Since Mackin Industries helped bring the car over, they equipped it with Volk TE37 wheels, 18x9.5" front and 18x10.5" rear. And these aren't the regular TE37s we're used to seeing on imports across America. They feature a special titanium gunmetal finish to differentiate them. Red Hot Company changes the wheels to a set of Volk Progressives when they're exhibiting the car in shows.

Naturally, Red Hot's CSL retains the factory body kit. To succeed in any type of motorsport, especially when it involves high speed turns, aerodynamics are very important, so there are a few additions manufactured by Dixis to add downforce or reduce weight. From the carbon fiber trunk to the GT wing and carbon hood, this CSL is Atkins-diet friendly.

Inside the M3 it's racecar barren. Aside from the special carbon/kevlar Recaro SP-AN seats and Defi gauges, this CSL is strictly for racing and sacrifices the luxury usually associated with the flagship BMW.

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The result of all these parts is that Red Hot Company's CSL was the fastest Euro at Time Attack '05. It took fifth place with a respectable time of 1:54sec in the unlimited, front engine, rear-wheel drive class. Again, we don't quite have the fastest Time Attack cars to beat the imports at their own game, but this CSL shows we're heading in the right direction and continue to worry the opposition.

For more information about Red Hot Company and its BMW products, you can visit - it's mostly in Japanese but there are some interesting pages on there nonetheless.

Red Hot Company

Location: Nagoya, Japan

Occupation: BMW tuners

2004 E46 M3

Engine: 3.2 liter 24v i-6 with Dixis header and titanium exhaust, upgraded fuel lines and pumps

Transmission: SMG gearbox with OS Giken twin-plate clutch and Super Lock LSDChassis: Dixis coilovers, rollcage, GT front chassis bracing

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Brakes: AP Racing front and rear calipers with Project Mu pads

Wheels & Tires: 18x9.5" front and 18x10.5" rear Rays TE37 with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires

Exterior: M3 CSL body kit with Dixis carbon hood, trunk and GT wing

Interior: Recaro SP-AN seats, Defi oil pressure, water temp, oil temp gauges, Sparco steering wheel on Dixis quick-release with paddle-shift system for SMG gearbox

By Roel F. Concepcion
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