Last month we revealed our incredible good fortune to be loaned a 2011 BMW M3 Competition Package, and announced we'd begin modifying it as soon as humanly possible.
By wonderful coincidence, BMW Performance also released a number of new parts for the car, so we quickly grabbed a few choice items since the fit and finish is obviously OE quality.
Additionally, we obtained some parts from BMW tuning specialist Turner Motorsport (TMS) to give us an even wider array of options.
Most of the parts fitted here are straightforward and require no special tools. They should apply to E90, E92 and E93 M3 models, as well as regular 3-Series. However, we also discovered there were some surprising differences between the models...
Always take care when fitting new parts. Protect your paint, ensure bolts are torqued to the correct spec. If you're unsure about any step, consult an expert or have it fitted by a specialist or your BMW dealer.
All BMW Performance (BMWP) parts are available from your local dealer.
|Carbon dash & door trim||BMWP||$1424.90|
|Black kidney grilles||BMWP||$119.26|
|Carbon mirrors (pair)||BMWP||$678.02|
|Carbon kidney grilles||TMS||$179.00|
|Carbon hood vents||TMS||$179.95|
|Carbon side vents||TMS||$199.00|
|10mm spacers (front)||TMS||$89.95|
|12.5mm spacers (rear)||TMS||$89.95|
|Longer wheel bolts (set)||TMS||$50.00|
Carbon dash trim
Because our car was ordered with the Competition Package (see et 9/10), we skimped on other areas to reduce the overall cost. Therefore, it has the basic cloth seats and black plastic interior trim.
Fortunately, BMW Performance has interior parts for the car. If you drive the E92 Coupe they have a great deal more, but for our four-door E90 there's a two-piece dashboard trim kit and door panels in carbon fiber. Unfortunately, we were supplied an E92 kit by mistake so we'll only be fitting the dash trim at present, since it's the same on both models.
As always, the component quality is exceptional and fitting is the same as OE parts, so we enlisted the help of Derek Vieira who installed the parts on our previous BMW 135i project (et 3/10). He works at a local BMW dealership, working on the cars daily so has an intimate knowledge of them.
The dash trim takes a few minutes to install but take care not to break the vent clips when transferring them to the BMWP carbon parts.
The M3 has unique mirrors that are actually claimed to contribute downforce at speed. BMW Performance produces high quality carbon fiber housings to replace the factory parts. These simply push into place using the factory clips. However, a length of padded tape is also provided to ensure a tight fit around the edges because the carbon shells don't have the intricate tabs on the OE plastic shells. That said, installation takes a few minutes, but take care removing and refitting the glass to avoid breaking either the mirror or its fixing clips.
Black kidney grilles
Although a BMW is immediately recognized by its chrome grilles, it's common to replace them with more sporting black grille pieces. By far the best available in terms of fit and finish are those from BMW Performance. Unlike the grilles fitted to the BMW 335is in this issue, these are all-black and give the car a more subtle look, drawing attention away from the nose and to the wheels or your other modifications.
To fit the parts, it's not necessary to remove the entire bumper. We loosened the top of the bumper to gain enough access to release the retaining clips so the OE grilles could be released. It's a little fiddly, so simply remove the bumper if you're unsure.
Carbon kidney grilles
Since we'd be using a great deal of carbon fiber on Project M3, we decided to fit some of Turner Motorsport's carbon pieces. They are also very good quality and fit exactly the same way, although they require a little more pushing to snap all the clips into place because the carbon is slightly thicker than BMWP's plastic. Once in place we've had no problems, they look cool and the carbon weave is designed to match the carbon roof on the E92 M3.
Carbon side vents
The M3 has distinctive chrome side vents, or gills, that house the LED indicator lenses. TMS offers carbon replacements, which on the E92 simply push into place in seconds. On the E90, however, it's an extremely complicated process that is best achieved by removing the fender liners and pushing from behind. But the windshield washer bottle is housed in the passenger side fender well, so this would also need to be removed.
According to BMW's internal tech documents, you remove the vent by pulling it and sliding a BMW tool (credit card) under the vent to release some clips. It proved almost impossible to remove the vents without breaking the housings. But since they have to be broken apart to remove the lens it doesn't matter. We ended up gluing the vent back together and refitting.
The final effect is in keeping with our carbon theme but it's a lot of work on the E90 that might be similarly achieved with some carbon vinyl... that said, the quality of the parts is good. Coupe owners have no such trouble and shouldn't be concerned at all.
Carbon hood vents
Since we were on a roll we decided to add a piece carbon relish with new hood vents from TMS. It's unlikely most people will ever notice these, but it's the detail that counts.
Fitting is quick and straightforward provided you start by lifting up the front and work around the sides to the back.
TMS wheel spacers
We have a few more BMWP carbon pieces we'll be fitting next month, along with lowering springs as the first part of our chassis makeover. However, we thought we would end this initial makeover with a nice set of TMS wheel spacers.
Although our Competition Package M3 has 0.5'' wider wheels than a regular M3 from the factory, TMS was still confident we could widen the track, gaining stability and making the car look more purposeful. They are 10mm wider at the front and 12.5mm rear, supplied with longer wheel bolts for safety.
On the road, we have noticed a slight difference in stability, the car feeling more planted, especially in fast corners. It's a cheap and speedy modification you can make to any car to enhance the stock wheels before you decide to splash out on a new set. And since our M3 has the gorgeous 19'' CSL-style wheels, we wanted to keep them as long as possible.
In part two of our M3 makeover we'll be fitting BMW Performance carbon front splitters and carbon rear wing. We'll also be lowering the car with H&R springs from TMS to improve roadholding and appearance without sacrificing the Electronic Damper Control. Future plans call for a coilover set-up, but for now we're enjoying the adjustable chassis and the push-button comfort.