Every year we ruin a good pair of shoes walking up and down the rows of cars at Bimmerfest: North America's largest BMW gathering. Numbering well over a 1000 cars, it's easy to identify trends and see what parts are most popular. But one of the most difficult tasks we're given is judging the Best Modified BMW. We have to scrutinize every Bimmer at the show and analyze the good, bad and the ugly. Fortunately, this year was less stressful because we discovered the most immaculate E92 M3 ever to grace the show, thanks to IND Distribution.
Enthusiasts may already know IND as the North American distributor for Eisenmann exhaust systems, but it's also making a name as one of the finest BMW tuners in the Midwest, as demonstrated by this supercharged M3.
The staff built the stunning coupe for the mysteriously named Nelson C. Not your typical client, the Florida resident contracted IND to create something special that would look good alongside his portfolio of exotic automobiles. His collection included a Ferrari Enzo, twin-turbo Gallardo, SL65 Black Series, Rolls Royce and not one but two Bugatti Veyrons! Yet despite his enviable collection, he still had a place in his heart for BMW, having owned and driven M cars over the past 30 years.
So when Nelson saw photos of an Atlantis metallic E90 M3 sedan - a project IND previously built for a customer in Texas - he had to have one.
The unique color is from BMW's Individual program but ordering an Atlantis M3 through the dealer could take up to a year. Instead of waiting, IND accepted the task on one stipulation... Nelson wanted the car in two months!
Without wasting any time, IND picked up a '10 Alpine white M3 from their local dealer. With 29 miles on the odometer, the drivetrain was removed as well as the underbody protection and plumbing. It took two days to strip and prepare the car for paint.
Before it was sprayed, some new body parts were obtained to give the M3 a sexier physique. This included a Challenge Engineering trunk plus an RD Sport front bumper, both constructed from carbon/kevlar.
With the shimmering Atlantis paint applied, progress continued on the chassis with KW Clubsport coilovers, RD Sport sway bars and Rogue Engineering toe arms to enhance the suspension geometry. Stopping power would be enriched with 15'' Brembo big brakes front and rear.
One of the biggest challenges was wheel selection. It would have been easy to order something from a catalog, but IND understood that wheels would make or break this car. So they set out on a mission to find a set of 19x8.75'' front and 19x10.25'' rear BBS FI wheels.
These Forged Individual wheels were made specifically for the E92 M3 with slightly narrower widths to allow the widest tires possible, yet still save weight. Only available in Europe at the time, it wasn't easy to obtain them in the project's timeframe because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland. So using a contact in Germany, the gloss black rims were collected directly from BBS headquarters, delivered to the airport and loaded onto an airliner. Once the wheels arrived, they were mounted with Pirelli PZero Corsa tires and slapped on the M3, looking picture perfect.
Speaking of perfect, the interior of Nelson's ride exemplified it. IND wanted a motorsport theme with the comfort of OEM, so modeled it on the European-spec M3 GTS.
The rollcage was fabricated by Fall-Line Motorsports; a name synonymous with Grand-Am racing. After color-matching the 1.75'' chromoly bar, the fabricators had to take care not to damage the newly-upholstered leather pieces when they installed it.
From the dash to the pillars and headliner, everything featured genuine OEM leather. The material was purchased from BMW's supplier in Germany, but apparently it was forbidden to import into the US. So using IND's German connection again, the hide found its way to Chicago.
IND's contact also proved useful when it came to new seats, sending over the half-suede BMW Performance seats before installation. However, the owner wanted them to match the leather theme. So IND disassembled and reupholstered them in leather, painting the harness inserts gloss black.
Nothing would complete the interior better than carbon fiber. So IND imported the first set of Powerhouse Amuse Ericsson carbon door panels, which alone took eight weeks. With an amazing carbon weave, the panels looked immaculate, although we're told it was tough getting them to fit perfectly.
With the rear seat deleted for the roll-bar, IND decided to fabricate a carbon cover. It was molded to fit perfectly, even wrapping around the roll-bar, while the carbon weave was chosen to match the Ericsson door panels.
A few details completed the interior, such as reupholstered shift knob and e-brake boots plus a leather-wrapped Macht Schnell gauge panel with Stack gauges.
While the project had the look and feel of a supercar, it lacked the raw power. Subsequently, IND installed an ESS Tuning supercharger and Akrapovic exhaust to the 4.0 V8.
Matched to the M3's double-clutch transmission, the supercharger kept boost at 6.5psi to produce a dyno-proven 522whp. This was achieved after IND flew-in the chief software engineer from ESS to customize the tuning.
Before finalizing the engine bay, IND painted the valve cover and intake manifold in gloss black.
The madness finally came to an end after two strenuous months. IND double-checked everything since it was imperative the car felt and drove as if it had rolled out of the dealer, with none of the creaks and rattles typical of some heavily modified cars.
We were fortunate to witness such a breathtaking BMW with our own eyes at Bimmerfest and our photo shoot near Nelson's Florida home. The paint is unlike any other factory color - it positively glows in sunlight and exudes class.
The modifications are precise and functional, from the blower to the forged wheels and brakes. And, of course, the interior is an absolute stunner, with the right mix of carbon and leather.
This M3 does more than check all the right boxes. If BMW were to build a super M3, we might imagine it would look and drive like this one.
Occupation: Eisenmann distributor, BMW specialist
Engine: 4.0 liter V8 32v with ESS Tuning stage 2 supercharger kit and software, Akropovic Evo titanium exhaust system with 100-cell cats and carbon tips, gloss black engine covers
Drivetrain: seven-speed DCT transmission with ESS Tuning transmission software
Brakes: 380mm front and rear Brembo big brakes kits with grey-painted GTR calipers
Suspension: KW Clubsport coilovers, carbon Dinan front strut brace, Rogue Engineering adjustable toe arms, RD Sport sway bars
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.75'' front, 19x10.25'' rear BBS FI wheels painted gloss black with 255/30 R19 front, 285/30 R19 rear Pirelli PZero Corsa System Asimmetrico tires
Exterior: RD Sport carbon/kevlar front bumper, M3 Challenge carbon/kevlar trunk, OE ZCP carbon trunk spoiler and grilles, IND tinted side markers, carbon mirror covers, '11 LED tail lights, BMW Individual Atlantis paint
Interior: BMW Performance seats wrapped in OE BMW leather with matching headliner, A-, B- and C-pillars, door inserts, dashboard, glovebox, Macht Schnell gauge panel, sunvisors and rear quarter panels, Powerhouse Amuse Ericsson carbon door panels, BMW Performance pedals, IND carbon rear-seat delete, Fall-Line Motorsports color-matched rollcage, Stack ST3500 oil pressure, oil temp and water temp gauges