Our E46 M3 with a set of D-Force wheels, EAS blackout grills and Bav Auto front splitter.  This month we also added a Khoalty rear diffuser and took care of some scratches, chips and road rash!

Project M3: Part 10 – Aesthetic upgrades for a cleaner look

We go for the "subtle, yet still aggressive" look

by Pablo Mazlumian

In Part 9, we gave Project E46 M3’s interior a simple makeover that makes high performance driving just that much more enjoyable.  This time we added some parts to the car’s exterior to further stimulate our senses walking up to it.  It's true that at MotoIQ we're more of a form-follows-function bunch, but making a car visually more appealing never hurts either (well, as long as we're not adding weight to it).

As it comes from the factory, the E46 BMW M3’s design displays a subtle aggressiveness that’s noticed by those individuals that are more emotionally moved by cars, if you pardon the pun, than the otherwise normal folk.  Unlike its 325i and 330i little siblings, the third generation M3 poses with flared fenders, which is an M characteristic that was unfortunately skipped in the second generation E36 M3 but was so successful with the iconic first-generation E30 M3.

The styling of the 2002-2006 E46 M3, plus the fact that many purists consider this generation to represent the last of the true M3s, has helped the resale value to maintain itself at a very respectable level.  But, while many of us love the styling, it doesn’t mean we can’t enhance the car aesthetically with just a few simple additions.  And thanks to a huge aftermarket industry behind the E46 M3, we had plenty to choose from.

To bring you up to speed to what we’ve done thus far aesthetically, in Part 4 we featured a set of 18-inch D-Force lightweight wheels in Matte Black finish that transformed the look of the car.  The wheels were wrapped with BF Goodrich G-Force Rivals, which at 275-mm wide in the rear also added to the overall sporty look.  The R-compound-like rubber also did wonders to the car’s overall performance when compared to its previous tire.  The numbers are impressive.

In Part 4 we also improved the looks by replacing the chrome kidney grills up front, as well as the fender grills on the front quarter panels, with blackout units from European Auto Source.  And, while most would argue the Wilwood big brake kit in Part 5 from UUC Motorwerks isn’t an aesthetic upgrade, one sure can’t look over the car without noticing those calipers and large 14-in rotors behind the dark wheels.

We picked up a front carbon lip from Bavarian Autosport, which until now has been our one-stop source for anything OE-related.  However, as pretty much anyone with a BMW knows, a Bav Auto’s catalog is also filled with a plethora of aftermarket goodies, and at prices you most likely won’t beat anywhere else.

Here’s a close-up shot of the wet carbon weave of our Bavarian Autosport front lip.  Don't mind those lines at the bottom, which are simply reflections (and that hair that fell out of my nose. sorry).

The lip is designed to only fit the OEM E46 M3 bumper cover.  We won’t bore you with installation pictures because this one is pretty self-explanatory—all you have to use is the black adhesive goo they send you, and put it on straight. 
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Wednesday, April 01, 2015 6:54 AM
Am I the only person who doesnt mind amber sidemarkers? I feel like they add a nice little touch of character like Cindy Crawfords mole.
Nick B
Nick Blink
Wednesday, April 01, 2015 7:20 AM
Tom - agree with you on some cars and certain color combos, silver however is not one of them. I think white cars and blue cars can pull of amber corner markers better most.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015 7:57 AM
Hopefully not completely off topic but when you snap off those little plastic clips that hold on body pieces, where do you guys get them from? Local auto stores never have the right ones and the dealer wants an arm and a leg for cheap plastic rivets.
Wednesday, April 01, 2015 1:05 PM
25whp + lots and lots of sound hp... :)

Not looking for a kiss though :D
Pablo Mazlumian
Pablo Mazlumianlink
Wednesday, April 01, 2015 2:39 PM
Thanks for reading, guys!
@Tom: while Cindy's mole looks great (well, hopefully when she's 85 it won't have 3-in long hairs on it), I personally like the touch of color to come more from the brakes. yes I know these are black--honestly I wish they were red but they weren't avail at the time we did the article. I felt the solid color gives it a little more of a new-school look, similar to how BMW did away with the amber lenses for the Z3 M Roadster I think in '99, which made it look so much better in my opinion.

@Nick: I could see the white being fine without clear markers or corners, as well as yellow. In the BMW world however, estoril blue looks so good to me with clear corners. That said, I'm not as sold with clear on the "estoril" Project Supra. Interesting, although I'll still probably do it on that car because of the red brakes it's already got.

@Protodad: I doubt I by the "right ones", but I've made well with the ones I've bought from my local Advanced Auto Parts store. Otherwise you could probably find them decently priced on like an EBay. While Turner and ECS and other BMW-parts supplying places have these for $0.99 a piece, here they are for $0.30:

VP: Not a bad guess (almost said 'kiss') so far!

Wednesday, April 01, 2015 2:56 PM
Pretty sure your mirror aren't rusting since there's no metal near there. They delaminate because they're constantly heated. Same problem on the E36 M3s.

Also your car isn't 17 years old, mine is! ('98 M3)
Pablo Mazlumian
Pablo Mazlumianlink
Wednesday, April 01, 2015 3:21 PM
Goodness you're right--I'm going to go back and change that. Don't know what I was thinking at the time. It's only 12 years old. Yay!
Monday, April 13, 2015 4:51 PM
I'd say 5-8HP max. The factory intake system on these cars are VERY good, and from the looks of it you'll probably gain some volume flow but the heat increase will offset some of the mass flow gains. I believe most of the power gained when converting to a "CSL" box is due to the flash itself. Still very interested in the results, though, and bet it'll sound awesome! I made a "short ram" intake for mine since I'm running the Infinity as well, but waiting to see the results of this before I go and extend my intake down to the front bumper area to reduce IATs.
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