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

The air intake for the radiator is cut into the rear window and flows through this duct.

A brushless EMP/Stewart WP 32 water pump keeps things cool.

The rear suspension of the car is where a lot of the E46 traction magic is made.

Wisefab links and knuckles are used for full adjustability and to lower the car without reducing travel or upsetting the geometry. Esaa Autosports relocated the control arms to reposition the roll center, reduce anti-squat and to improve the toe curve.   A Speedway Engineering tubular rear antisway bar is also used.

A Genesis blade type sway bar adjuster is used on the rear Speedway Engineering bar to speed adjustments.  The bar can be adjusted in seconds with the turn of one allen wrench.

KW Motorsports 3-way adjustable coilovers are used.  The rod next to a shock is a suspension postion transducer for the cars data logging system.


  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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