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

The Motorsport coilovers feature KW’s latest fast action EXR valves. You can read about how these work here. 

This rear structure contains a central jack point, supports the rear bash bar and holds the batteries.  It is designed to be easily repairable and to protect the main unibody from damage.  FD rules require that the center of the car remain OEM unibody but the front and rear parts of the chassis can be replaced with tubular parts in front of and behind the front most and rear most suspension pick up points and most teams take full advantage of this rule.

Here you can see the twin Optima Red Top Batteries. Optima batteries are ideal for this application since they use a fully sealed, compartmentalized, and vent free gelled electrolyte and can be run in any postion.  FD rules limit ballast but they don’t limit the number of batteries you can run.  The batteries are not only run as ballast but can be used to tune the chassis balance and forward grip.  In a pinch a third battery can be run on top of these two.  If not the ice chest for the drivers cool suit is mounted up there.


The front suspension has a lot of steering angle as is mandatory on all drift cars.

The front Wisefab suspension ads a lot of steering angle, quickens the steering ratio and corrects the akerman curve and the roll center.


  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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