While we’re all reading this magazine because we love European cars, not all of us reach this point by the same route. The hardcore enthusiasts claim to have never deviated from European manufacturers, but some of us haven’t been so lucky…
Max Shapiro’s untraditional background, for example, began at the ripe age of 15 with a Chevy Camaro as his first car. However, he’s quick to point out the hunk of metal didn’t last long before a string of VWs lead him to one of his favorite cars to date; a Mk4 R32.
Max enjoyed the R, enhancing it with a few mods until the summer of 2010 when he fell in love with an E46 M3 Convertible. “It was a great platform. Right out of the box it was a monster,” Max said. “But as much as I loved driving with the top down, I knew I needed a coupe because I wanted to modify it.”
A few months later the convertible was traded for an ’04 M3 Coupe that now sits in his driveway. As predicted, he immediately attended to the stance, lowering the car on KW coilovers, stiffening the shell with a variety of Rogue Engineering components.
Seeking something unique to fill the arches, Max contacted Manu Gill at DPE Wheels. They were able to narrow down the size, design and even create a custom finish for him. This resulted in the 19" ST7 wheels here, with a staggered fitment of 9" front and 10" rear.
Manu suggested the wheel centers be brushed aluminum with a tinted clearcoat to create more depth than traditional finishes. The multi-piece wheels were then bolted together with polished step-lips before strapping on Continental DW tires.
Happy with the outcome, Max addressed the stock brakes, which had suddenly become an embarrassment. He added wheel-filling 355mm slotted StopTech rotors all round, with bright-red six-piston front calipers and four-pistons on the rear.
Giving the new wheels a special touch, DPE color-matched its limited-edition center caps to the new brakes.
Max wanted to flaunt the M3’s natural lines, so fitting Vorsteiner’s V2 CSL bumper up front gave it a factory look. A one-piece carbon lip then provided a bit more aggression.
Continuing the theme, a carbon Scorza CSL diffuser hung over the exhaust tips, and a double-sided carbon CSL trunk topped it off: the carbon weave was left exposed on the lip and around the license plate.
With the package coming together, Max took the M3 to a show in Charlotte, NC over the following summer. Meeting with Billy at Beemer Evolution, they installed a carbon-look vinyl roof on the M3. Visually, it matched the gills, kidney grilles and the carbon roundels, completing the black and silver concept.
Then the mailman delivered a large box from Active Autowerke in Miami. It was a Generation Six stage 1 supercharger kit. Putting his faith in the instructions, Max installed everything over a weekend, mounting the oil-cooled HKS GTS8550 supercharger along with a new intake manifold with its twin blow-off valves. The front bumper had to be modified to fit the huge front-mount intercooler, but it allowed him to introduce Maserati GranSport mesh into the main bumper duct.
Finally, Active Autowerke software persuaded the six-cylinder to release 435hp at the wheels with 10psi boost pressure. “It’s really an amazing product and is always admired every time somebody looks into the engine bay. And the power it produces give me a grin from ear-to-ear every time!” Max laughed.
Any other modifications under the hood might be overshadowed but are certainly audibly present. They include custom headers as well as a Custom Performance Innovation exhaust with 200-cell cats finished with a Milltek muffler. “Its not super-loud, but you know it definitely means business at WOT!” Max laughed.
Shifting to the interior, Max wanted to match the aggressive exterior, so started with a pair of Cobra Misano Anniversary seats. The carbon-backed beauties were wrapped in black leather, then stitched with grey thread in a diamond pattern.
Additional parts included an AutoTecknic carbon shift knob and e-brake handle, along with an alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and shift boot.
At this point, with the performance dialed in, Max decided to treat himself to a Dynavin head unit front and center. The touchscreen has navigation and DVD playback, which was deemed vital for upcoming road trips along the East Coast, to car shows such as Bimmerfest East, which is where we first discovered Max and his marvelous M3.
Max is justifiably proud of his blown M3, even imagining that if BMW was to reproduce a factory-tuned E46, it would probably be the spitting image of his!
et Tech Spec
2004 BMW M3
Owner: Max Shapiro
Location: Arlington, WV
Occupation: IT Consultant
Engine: 3.2-liter inline six-cylinder with Active Autowerke Generation Six stage 1 supercharger kit using HKS GTS8550 supercharger, AA intake manifold, dual blow-off valves, larger Bosch fuel injectors, oil cooler, front-mount intercooler and AA software, custom headers, Custom Performance Innovations exhaust system with 200-cell cats, Milltek muffler
Drivetrain: six-speed manual, Rogue Engineering short-shift kit
Brakes: StopTech six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers with 355mm drilled rotors all round, steel lines
Suspension: KW ST coilovers front and rear, Rogue Engineering one-piece Race strut tower brace, uprated rear shock mounts, Powerflex rear trailing arm bushings
Wheels & Tires: 19x9" front, 19x10" rear DPE ST7 wheels, polished step-lips, brushed aluminum centers with tinted clearcoat, 60mm VAC studs, Vorshlag lug nuts, 225/35 R19 front, 265/30 R19 rear Continental ExtremeContact DW tires
Exterior: Vorsteiner CSL V2 front bumper, one-piece carbon Race lip, Maserati GranSport mesh, black kidney grilles, Scorza double-sided carbon CSL trunk lid and carbon CSL diffuser, carbon-look vinyl on roof, LED angel-eyes, black side gills, smoked front corners and side markers, tint, carbon roundels
Interior: Cobra Misano anniversary edition seats in leather with diamond-stitched center panels, carbon backs, carbon dash trim, BMW pedal set, AutoTecknic carbon shift knob and e-brake handle, alcantara steering wheel and shift boot, Dynavin head unit, iPod connect, LED interior bulbs
Thanks: Manu at DPE Wheels, Sean at Scorza, Prit at EuroAutoWerx, Oakville Motowerks, Javed Gul at The Wheel Tour, Team Solo, Kevin at KC Image, Active Autowerke, Rus at Rsellos Photography, Billy at Beemer Evolution, Sean, Ryan, Josh and Bacon at Decadence Performance, Jack at CPI, D&V Autobody, Turner Motorsport, Phil