Project E46 M3: Part 14 – Short shift kit and lightweight clutch and flywheel testing!!

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As expected, the interior is gutted, and the owner installed a four-point roll bar with Kirky racing seats.

Most of the gauges used in the car are from AEM, which can be datalogged through the car’s AEM Infinity engine management system.

Here is the Radium Engineering fuel cell in the trunk. Radium Engineering makes exceptional products (we’re using its factory fit oil and water separator in our Project E46 M3). This whole section was put together and installed by Modified by KC. Clean.

It had been a while since I’d seen Active Autowerke stuff on a BMW. This M3 runs an AA blower kit, which was good for 420 wheel HP on MKC’s Dynojet. That power level in a car like this sounds just perfect for the track. MKC tuner Chad Charlton can easily get more out of the car but it was reported that the owner prefers to limit it to this power level for track use. That’s probably a smart thing (and also indicative that the owner is most likely not in his 20s).

Seeing the Active Autowerke name is nostalgic to me. Alright, story time. I met the AA guys back in 1997 while in Miami (prayers for Floridians as Hurricane Matthew is ripping through Florida as I type!) with my first E36 M3. They gave me a ride in their then red E36 M3 project car sporting about 360 wheel turbocharged horsepower (420bhp kit), and I was hooked. At that time, the fastest thing I’d been in was a 3.0-liter Acura NSX. But the level of performance in these AA BMWs, however, was at a whole different level—especially for being nearly 19 years ago!

While in Miami, I was only able to have a little bit of work done to my first ’97 M3 by them, which included the likes of an aluminum flywheel (and yes, that one rattled) and a custom cold-air intake setup. However, by 2002 I was piloting my own ’95 M3 with AA’s stage 2.5 turbo setup making 420 WHP. For it being 15 years ago, that performance level caught a lot of cars—well, every one I ever came across—well off guard. I also put about 1500 miles on track with it (at a lower boost good for 300-330whp), and yet never got towed home. The rest is history—and I’ve had to own a modified turbocharged car ever since (with Project Supra now being the third). One could say that AA owner Karl Hugh had a hand in getting me to make the first move into automotive journalism—even though he may not know it (he made an indirect introduction of me to Les Bidrawn of European Car Magazine back in 2000). Talk about a “little thing” that drastically changed a life!

If you’ll continue to allow me to reminisce, the little thing that led me to meet Mike Kojima years after my years at EC (we never crossed paths while he was working for the same publishing firm) was blowing up my Supra—again—back in 2011, thanks mostly to AEM’s Lawson Mollica and JE Pistons’ then (and currently our own!) Chuck Johnson. Sometimes bad things can happen for good reasons.

Want to see how the M3’s S54 inline-six compares to that of a 3.6-liter V8 found in the Ferrari 360 Modena? These are two engines that were produced at the same time. Even with the M3’s fewer cylinders and less displacement, it holds its own. See the details on the next page!

 

3 comments

    1. hi and funny you should ask because–while I’ve sold the car a year ago to my father in CA (and I’m in KC)–he was actually sitting 5ft away from me when I saw this note so I was able to ask him and he says it’s relatively quiet. Can hear the chatter a bit during idle and of course if you turn the AC on but it’s not obnoxious or anything like that. thanks for reading!

    2. Hey I have the car currently! It’s pretty low key you won’t be able to tell while driving obviously, sometimes at idle although you here a lot of chatter lol. I personally think it’s amazing, after first gear it’s super forgiving. Per the clutch it’s very easy to set off, catch and rev match or heel toeing ( I guess part of that is owed to the flywheel too) and the stiffness imo is perfect. Short shifter is the cherry on top.

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