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

The car is equipped with GPS for track mapping and data syncing purposes.

A squirrel cage blower provides fresh filtered air to the drivers helmet.

In a practice and testing session at Willow Springs raceways balcony section, Michael is playing around with Dai Yoshihara. After being around Pro Am and drift day cars, Formula Drift Pro cars are at a level that is hard to imagine when you see them in action close up.  The speed, noise and overall level of violence is extreme.

Where the E46 really shines is the chassis ability to grip and accelerate hard out of low speed turns.  A lot of this has to do with the sticky Achilles tires but some of it also has to do with the rear suspension’s flat camber curve which really plants the tires footprint and the highish rear roll center that allows softer rear springs and gives a lot of weight transfer to the outside rear wheel.

The Essa Autosport E46 M3 is a strikingly beautiful car, simple and understated, it reeks of pure function and the form follows that.

With a really compressed 2020 FD season due to the Covid pandemic which is preventing international drivers from competing and also causing a few teams to withdraw, the season should be challenging.  All the events are going to be run back to back in a very short time frame.  A simple and easy to set up car that is very reliable should be a bigger advantage than normal this year.  This description fits the Essa Autosport M3 to a tee and we are looking to see if 2020 is thus going to be Michael Essa’s year.


Essa Autosport


  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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *