Since its debut, the E90 M3 has sailed forth with undeniable praise and accolades. With a tractable eight-cylinder motor and BMW's typically refined chassis characteristics, what more could you want? Easy-the crew at Illinois-based Fluid Motoring Union (FMU) simply wanted more. And they seem to have gotten it using their latest batch of upgrades to the much-vaunted platform.
The journey actually began in early 2009 when they picked up the car with just 10 miles on the clock.
"Immediately it felt like a fast car," says FMU tech Mike Murzano. "It shifted great, had amazing handling and road feel-it was exactly what you would expect from a new creation out of BMW's M division."
Murzano is one of five co-owners at FMU, which got its start around three years ago by two BMW technicians named O.J. Lopez and Craig Hegland. The started out handling repairs at night since they were both still full-time employees at Perillo BMW in Chicago.
After attending the Las Vegas MFest III and breaking in the car in stock form, the M3 returned home where FMU put in its first modification courtesy of Jeremy Fleming at OE Tuning. Fleming is a former tuner for Powerchip and knows his way around a software flash. FMU then deleted the factory catalysts, leaving them all told with a claimed 30-35 hp gain at the rear wheels.
It's been said that to keep from going slower, you got to get lower. So next on the list came a coilover suspension setup from H&R. As you can see, the coilovers leave this Bimmer with the industry preferred stance-dumped-yet it's still drivable.
"As soon as we were done with the install we went out for a drive in the pouring rain, and I still noticed a great improvement over stock handling," says Murzano.
Let's be realistic here; the only place you'd drive a car as low as this one is at the track, but the FMU crew did make the trip all the way out to Vegas and back.
"I had the opportunity to drive the M3 cross country with just a basic tune," says Murzano. "I was impressed by the performance and also its diversity as a daily driver with a family on board."
He goes on to mention that this opinion might not have been expected since he says he's not really an M3 fan at all. "I am a fan of very few E46s, and I never liked the E36."
After the car came back, it was put away under a tarp for most of the year. Every once in a while it would peek its nose out and say, "Are you tools ever going to finish me?"
In fact, the company had bought the car as an R&D platform for designing and engineering performance mods to place into production. So it made sense when MFest snuck up on them again in the spring of 2010 that they pulled the car back out from under its blanket and got back down to brass tacks. This was two weeks before the show and at this point a slew of modifications were thrown at the car, starting with the engine.
A set of Schrick 292 cams and Okada Projects ignition coils were installed, followed by a custom FMU 3-inch exhaust that runs from the header flanges back. The sound of this exhaust is guttural enough, but with the addition of the carbon velocity stacks under the hood, the sound is downright menacing. If a lion and a dragon mated and their angry offspring's roar could be modulated with a throttle and downshifts, this is what it would sound like.
Those velocity stacks aren't just for looks or aural orgasms. They were designed and engineered for maximum airflow. This is why they have the quirky half-macaroni look. Murzano told us that the ideal shape for the stacks is much longer and looks even more like a disturbing carbon-fiber-noodle soup when installed. At the end of the day, FMU estimates the M's power figure to be at 400 whp.
Body mods are kept to a tasteful minimum with a Vorsteiner front lip molded to the OEM bumper. The only thing that might be considered more cash than flash are the wheels. At $3,000 a pop, these 9x19 fore and 11x19 aft Dymag carbon-kevlar/magnesium rims aren't priced for sale at the local swap meet. Wrapped with Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires measuring 255/35 and 305/30, the Dymags, made of practically precious minerals, nearly halve the most important kind of weight that can be reduced, the unsprung type. Each weighs around 15 pounds each.
Functional upgrades continue on the inside with Status Racing seats and harnesses and a bespoke harness bar that was built entirely in-house. The latter may serve as the ultimate "J.C." bar for rear passengers when the driver gets up to high-speed antics. Speaking of which, during a certain leg of the trip from Chicago to Las Vegas, Murzano has a very fond memory of a duel in the desert with associate O.J. Lopez in an S62-powered 7 Series.
"I have never felt so confident going through mountain bends at those kinds of speeds," Murzano says.
A car with acceleration potential like this one needs braking power to match. This latter is accomplished with an FMU/Rotora eight-piston front and four-piston rear big brake kit with 380mm rotors.
As if having one of the coolest Germanic-sounding, purposeful names in the business wasn't enough, Fluid Motoring Union has gone and built a vehicle in the same vein. The modified E90 M3 has just the right amount of modifications to look good and go fast-when they finally got down to brass tacks and built a Bimmer with carbon stacks.
2009 BMW M3
4.0-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. Schrick 292 cams, Okada Projects ignition coils, FMU exhaust with dual cross pipes, carbon velocity stacks, custom ECU flash
Six-speed manual. Autosolutions short shifter
H&R coilovers with custom spring rates
FMU/Rotora big brake kit, eight-piston calipers (f), four-piston calipers (r), 380mm slotted rotors
Wheels and Tires
Dymag carbon-kevlar/ magnesium, 9x19 (f), 11x19 (r)
Michelin Pilot Sport PS2, 255/35 (f), 305/30 (r)
Vorsteiner front lip molded to OEM bumper
FMU/Status seats, Status harnesses, custom harness bar
Peak Power: 400 hp @ 8000 rpm
Peak Torque: 398 lb-ft @ 6500 rpm
0-60 mph: 4.2 sec.
Top Speed: 180 mph