Inside Michael Essa’s 1000hp Formula Drift BMW E46 M3!

A Samsonas six speed sequential transmission is used.  Six speed sequential transmissions are beginning to replace the traditional 4 speed transmissions that have been en vouge for the past few years.  A Clutchmasters 850 twin-disc clutch harnesses the engines power and couples it to the driveline.

This small fan and hose divert cooling air to the inside of the bellhousing and clutch.  This helps clutch durability.

A 10.5″ Winters quick change rear end is used with a spool instead of a differential.  This gives 100% lock up and is the most consistent for drifting.  The quick change is great for handy gear changes and is about standard issue on today’s pro drift car.  Drive Shaft Shop, heavy duty axles and CV joints are also used.

The front Enkei RS05RR wheels are 18X8.5 with 255/35-18 Achilles 123S tires.  Sparta Triton R six piston calipers help slow the car squeezing big 355mm floating rotors.  The Sparta calipers are CNC machined from forgings and are nickel plated for corrosion resistance.

The Enkei RS05RR rear wheels are 18×11 fitted with 285/35-18 Achilles 123S tires.  The rear brakes have Sparta 4 piston calipers and 355mm rotors. Unlike most current pro drift cars, the Essa Autosport M3 only has one set of rear calipers.

The hydraulic drift brake shares the rear caliper with the brake pedal.  With a dual master cylinder pedal box, there is not too much feedback to the brake pedal when the drift brake is pulled compared to a stock single master cylinder brake system so Michael tells us that pedal feedback is hardly noticeable.  He prefers the slight amount of feedback to the weight and complexity of two totally discreet rear brake systems.

The Samsonas sequential shifter changes gears by just pushing forward or backward, This is super fast and no H pattern here to slow shifting or potentially cause mishifting.


  1. Some very nice little details – I very much like the adaptation of the blade swaybar end to the splined bar, and the use of multiple batteries as not-technically-ballast amuses me. There’s definitely a feel like… about a well sorted car where there’s not much excess, which you would figure.

  2. It’s interesting how some shops swear by using the latest in performance bearings for their rods or mains. And then there are the ones who check their clearances and successfully run stock bearings (not even WPC etc. treated).
    In my experience a crank with too much runout or oval/worn journals is the main culprit of bearing failures, not the mechanical properties of the bearing itself.
    I’ve even noticed that some performance bearings have less crush height than OEM ones, especially on Honda engines.
    Using performance bearings in daily driven engine is also a recipe for disaster. They just don’t absorb contaminants as well, leaving them float around in the oiling system and grind away on your precious polished crank journals.

  3. Great article Mike! The E46 has quite a long wheelbase (2720mm) relative to its overall external dimensions. The current Mustang is also in the 2720mm range. The BRZ (2570mm) and S15 (2520mm) are significantly shorter in wheelbase

    The A90 Supra has a 2470mm wheelbase.

    As horsepower and speeds increase in top level competitions do you anticipate more competitors moving to long wheelbase platforms for improved high speed stability.

    Would the short wheelbase of the A90 Supra hinder it’s high speed stability to a significant degree? Is the BMW E92 Coupe at 2760mm.wheelbase the new benchmark platform for top level drifting?

  4. The power steering cooler looks like a low pressure unit but it does not look like a CSF product… possibly a Setrab ProLine STD range cooler?

  5. Curious as to why 6 speed transmissions are starting be the norm. I’m not aware of many tracks where a 4 speed would not suffice

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