When we asked Marcus Olson what it’s like to drive a 800hp BMW M3 he answered, “It feels like a normal car unless you want to turn it into a death machine. I’ve driven fast cars, but this type of fast seems to bend the seat as you accelerate. Nothing is comparable.”
Marcus has been a BMW fanatic since the age of nine. His dad still uses the home garage to restore BMWs, including an ongoing ’78 E24 Alpina project imported from Germany.
Marcus’ first BMW was a yellow E36 M3 Convertible, which he owned for five years, put 170,000 miles on it, and even used it to move from Minnesota to California.
When it came time for another M, he wanted a Laguna Seca blue E46 M3 with a manual six-speed, black interior and brushed aluminum. After looking for years he happened to drive past a dealership as the exact M3 was being traded in about a mile from his house.
Having bought it, the very first thing Marcus did was install staggered 19x8.5” and 19x10.5” COR Concord wheels with barrels painted by SIK Industries in Sunnyvale, CA to match the factory Laguna Seca blue.
The freshly-painted wheels were mounted with 245/35 front and 275/30 rear Falken tires. Even though the paint is relatively fragile and needs to be looked after, he was thrilled when some Hells Angels randomly complimented the look.
Marcus figured he couldn’t do any better than the stock exterior of the E46 M3, so he made his car stand out from the crowd by investing everything he had into the suspension and engine.
The plan was to create a quarter-mile car: Everybody said a 10sec E46 couldn’t be done, but HorsepowerFreaks in Portland, OR were more then willing to prove them wrong.
Working with David Nguygen at HPF, nothing seemed impossible as they planned to transform the six-cylinder S54 engine into an 800hp monster.
The work began by fitting Darton sleeves into the cylinders for the low-compression, forged pistons on stronger rods as part of HPF’s stage three turbo kit. The S54 was then ready for the Precision T71 billet turbo that pushes through a black-anodized intercooler and color-matched blue intake manifold.
The kit also includes 1200cc injectors and uprated fuel system, a carbon intake, Okada ignition coils, stainless steel exhaust, twin HKS BOVs and a 44mm TiAL wastegate, as well as an oil scavenge pump and new wiring harness among the never-ending list of parts.
The 800hp powerplant was then bolted to its six-speed transmission that spins an OS Giken LSD in the rear. The Driveshaft Shop then supplied its level-five drag application axles rated up to 1000hp.
After a strut bar was installed over the engine, the suspension requirements were taken care of by remote-reservoir Moton coilovers. In the front, HPF welded brackets to the top of the intercooler to secure the reservoirs. While in the rear they were welded to a frame in the trunk.
HPF finished the car on the dyno at 9pm the day before MFest 2011 in mid-April. And since Marcus and his friend thought it would be fun to show off the car at the show, they embarked on the 1000-mile journey the very same night.
With the coilovers wound down, you could barely fit a credit card between the rear wheels and fenders. After driving for 200 miles, Marcus set the Moton’s rebound and compression knobs to full hard, creating kart-like handling to prevent the rears from rubbing in the fenders.
To not give the game away, Marcus left the interior stock. However, there are hidden gauges and switches throughout the car, like the wideband and boost gauges in the rearview mirror. This super-slick install was by Scott Wheeler at Radar-Mirror. The methanol injection switch is also hidden in the coin tray, while race gas software is accessed via a key behind the ignition.
There are some creature comforts, however, such as a Pioneer head unit and Focal subwoofer. Marcus even chose to forego a rear strut bar because, believe it or not, “The car still goes to the grocery store!” he told us.
On the MFest trip they drove south, gathering more M3s along the way, eventually turning their 20-car caravan into a 100-car train. Unfortunately, somebody took a wrong turn and the convoy cruised through a small town. Two local cops couldn’t believe their luck and tried to pull everybody over, but the cars scattered and only a few received tickets.
Marcus was one of the lucky ones and, as he pulled the E46 into MFest, was greeted by an attendee who said it was “the loudest thing he’d ever heard.” With a straight-pipe exhaust and single resonator, it has the essence of a racecar.
Wisely, Marcus declined the MFest drag racing because, after driving 1000 miles on two hours of sleep, he didn’t want to turn the 800hp M3 into a death machine. Next year, Marcus will be back, rested and ready to become the first 10sec E46.
Since photographing the car, Marcus’ M3 is being converted to run on E85 by Saad Racing and ProEFI in Scottsdale, AZ. The aim is to increase output to 900hp at the rear wheels using a ProEFI 128 EMS engine management system, upgraded fuel system and Bosch fuel pumps as well as removing the methanol. With this new equipment, Marcus is even more confident of breaking into the tens.
et Tech Spec
2003 BMW M3
Owner: Marcus Olson
Location: San Francisco, CA
Occupation: IT consultant
Engine: 3.2-liter six-cylinder 24v with HorsepowerFreaks stage three turbo kit including Darton sleeved block, Precision T71 billet turbo, low-compression forged pistons, forged connecting rods, heavy-duty head studs, methanol injection, solenoid and pump, HPF engine management, HPF fuel system with uprated pumps, 1200cc injectors, black anodized intercooler, Okada Projects Plasma coil packs, 4" manifold-back exhaust, single resonator, titanium tips, oil cooler, oil catch can, carbon fiber engine cover, air ducts, intake and DME cover, VAC Motorsports oil pump, Turner Motorsport fan clutch, Laguna Seca blue intake manifold, plug-n-play harness, two HKS blow-off valves, 44mm TiAL wastegate, steel-braided oil lines, oil scavenge pump, HPF mounts
Drivetrain: six-speed manual with OS Giken differential, UUC Motorwerks short shifter, Driveshaft Shop level-five axles, transmission mounts, VAC Motorsports bushings and solid subframe bushings
Brakes: 355mm front rotors with six-piston monoblock Brembo calipers, 345mm rear rotors with four-piston Brembo calipers
Suspension: Moton Clubsport two-way coilovers, Ground Control adjustable sway bars and springs, Turner Motorsport camber plates, Specialty Products rear control arms and camber kit
Wheels & Tires: 19x8.5" front, 19x10" rear COR Concord forged three-piece wheels with Laguna Seca blue lips and satin-black powdercoated centers, 245/35 R19 front, 275/30 R19 rear Falken FK452 tires
Exterior: Depo smoked corners, smoked OEM LED tail lights, monochrome emblems, black kidney grilles, Iconz Wheels front lip
Interior: Radar-Mirror wideband and boost gauges, HPF traction controller and methanol switch
Audio/Visual: Pioneer AVIC-Z110BT head unit, Focal front component speakers and 11" sub, Audio System amps
Thanks: David, John, Brandon and Chris at HPF, James at Saad Racing, Jason at ProEFI, Art at Sonic Motorsports