2004 BMW M3
Fast is the new 450hp Nissan GT-R. Fast is the twin-turbo 530hp Porsche GT2. Fast is the 631hp Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 V12. But if you thought these cars were fast, then you haven't witnessed the phenomenon bursting out of Portland, OR. HorsepowerFreaks (HPF) is building turbocharged E46 M3s to redefine the meaning of fast. With stage one M3s averaging 450whp and stage two 595whp, they're becoming the most feared streetcars around.
And this stage two Laguna Seca blue '04 M3 is no exception. It's been dyno-tested to 667whp with an estimated 813hp at the crank (factoring in 18% drivetrain loss). It's a menace to society, a super-villain of sports cars, a freak of nature.
It takes big balls to create and drive a monster like this. But Alvin De Rego of Allen, WA had the passion and courage to do so. Perhaps his experience has helped him as a manager in the US Navy. For 15 years he's worked on submarines in Hawaii but now spends his days on aircraft carriers in Washington.
While serving his country is important to Alvin, he also enjoys spending time with family as well as toying with modified cars. And to our surprise, this is his first Euro.
"I've always had hot rods. I was looking for a sporty car and wanted to keep up with my kids. My oldest has a Nissan 240SX and is into drifting. My youngest has an Evo. So I tried a 350Z, RX-8 and then jumped into the M3. I was sold right away. The best thing was the sequential gearbox. I liked not having to use a clutch all the time but still drive it as a manual when not in traffic," he explained.
The SMG tranny would prove to be a challenge when Alvin contacted HPF because they'd never built a turbo kit for the sequential transmission. "I was their third BMW customer and they used my car for development," he told us.
HPF started by mocking up the stage one kit. This included the huge intake plenum optimized for mid- and top-end power. It also housed one of two HKS blow-off valves. The intake was increased to a 4.5" carbon pipe bolted to a Precision T67 turbo. The turbo was then connected to a two-piece short-runner exhaust manifold for quicker spooling and individual flow paths. A 3" downpipe in turn attached to an Agency Power exhaust that Alvin opted for.
To keep the intake temperature cool, a front-mount intercooler sat behind the bumper, with another blow-off valve.
For fueling, the enormous increase in airflow warranted 750cc injectors and an extra Walbro 255 lph fuel pump.
To put the power to the wheels, HPF upgraded the clutch to its stage two Feramic disc but retained the factory flywheel.
Once the hardware was in place, HPF connected its engine management system, including a AEM manifold air pressure sensor, eliminating the need for a MAF. The software maps were then fine-tuned and account for a multitude of parameters including altitude, gear selection, boost, temperature and more. This ensured the motor drove flawlessly in any condition, whether in the chilled mountains or blistering desert.
After stage one was complete, the boosted 3.2 liter was averaging 450whp and 330 lb-ft of torque at 6psi. Both Alvin and HPF thirsted for more so they continued with stage two, adding methanol injection installed inside the front bumper and controlled by the engine management. The system was configured to be fully automatic since boost, timing and fueling corrects itself when methanol is detected. Alvin remarked, "I can't run race gas all the time!"
With stage two complete, the car put down 667whp and 551 lb-ft on the dyno.
This extreme level of power was outright frightening. If you didn't know what you were doing, the car could easily spin out of control on the track or public roads. So making the car safer and increasing grip was a priority. "I needed bigger wheels in the back," Alvin told us. This led to the widebody with the help of Benchmark Motoring and Showcase Auto Rebuild."
Benchmark was able to import the rarely seen Lumma CLR 300M widebody. The entire package included wider front and rear bumpers along with more aggressive skirts and, of course, the vented fenders.
The new fenders allowed the M3 coupe to house 20x9.5" front and 20x12" rear three-piece forged HRE 893R wheels. A set of sticky tires would be the deal breaker for traction, so the rear benefited from robust 325/25-20 Michelin PS2 tires, while the fronts received 255/30-20.
As for the choice of suspension: "I first had Bilstein coilovers but after making the trip to M-Fest 2, the car kept rubbing and bottoming out because the suspension was too soft."
While the Bilstein's were a decent street coilover, Benchmark set him up with Moton Club Sport coilovers. The track-tuned units have separate compression and rebound adjustment with external reservoirs. This allowed the suspension to be adjusted in a number of configurations. Once installed, Benchmark had the car aligned and corner-balanced with Alvin the driver seat.
Finishing the chassis were front and rear big-brakes. With over 800hp at the crank, Alvin begged for all the stopping power he could muster, so the fronts received Brembo six-piston monoblock calipers with 15" cross-drilled rotors, while the rear has four-piston calipers and 14" rotors.
With the majority of the project car complete, Alvin finished his beast with Vorsteiner carbon parts such as the hood and trunk. We were caught off guard by the carbon roof, which was executed by Benchmark. The interior also displayed some of Benchmark's craftsmanship, with an alcantara headliner, seat inserts and side panels, plus the show-stopping audio system with Focal speakers, two JL Audio subs and an impressive enclosure that mimics the BMW kidney grilles. Three Alpine amplifiers power all the music and video.
The project has taken over five years to complete but he's also working on a '96 Chevy truck which has been chopped, tubbed, runs on air bags and has a supercharged 454ci block. He's become the all-around speed freak, but reiterated that his M3 is the wildest. "The car is lots of fun. It's the fastest I've ever owned but haven't driven it much," he concluded. Perhaps that's because Alvin has to keep it locked up in his garage. His HPF-turbocharged M3 is the new definition of fast, a real freak of nature...
2004 BMW M3
Owner: Alvin De Rego
Location: Allen, WA
Occupation: aircraft carrier
Engine: 3.2 liter S54 six-cylinder 24v with HPF stage 2 turbo kit including Precision P67 turbo, two HKS blow-off valves, HPF 750cc fuel injectors, Walbro 255 lph inline fuel pump, front-mount intercooler, water/methanol injection, AEM/HPF engine management, TiAL 44mm V-band wastegate, Agency Power 3" turbo-back exhaust, Radenergie carbon valve cover
Driveline: six-speed SMG with HPF pressure-plate and ceramic clutch disc
Brakes: Brembo 15" front and 14" rear big brake kits with six-piston front and four-piston rear color-matched calipers
Suspension: Moton Suspension Technology Club Sport coilovers, Radenergie carbon front strut brace, AC Schnitzer sway bars
Wheels & Tires: 20x9.5" front and 20x12" rear HRE 893R with 255/30-20 front and 325/25-20 rear Michelin PS2 tires
Exterior: Lumma front and rear bumpers, side skirts and fenders, Vorsteiner carbon race hood, carbon roof, trunk, kidney- and side grilles, smoked lenses
Interior: black alcantara headliner, blue alcantara seat inserts and side panels
Audio/Visual: Kenwood NDX8120 head unit with iPod interface, Alpine PDX 2.150, 4.150 and 1.1000 amps, Focal Utopia Be No5 two-way components and KRX2 5.25" two-way components, two 10W6 JL Audio sub, 10.2" Savv monitor, Escort 9500ci radar detector, Sirius radio, custom sub enclosure
Thanks: Ricky Johnson at Showcase Auto Rebuild, HorsepowerFreaks (www.horsepowerfreaks.com), Derek Terada at Benchmark Motoring (www.benchmarkmotoring.com)