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Harper

Harper's M-Texture E46 M3

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Finally have some time to make a thread for my M3. I won't backdate the stuff I've already done on here because there is too much and not all of it is very well documented (list is below though), but I might as well make a thread to put all the dumb stuff I waste away my weekends doing. Bought the M3 in July 2019, never intended to get as carried away with it as I did but that's what happens I suppose. 

I was always a huge fan of the M-Texture interior prior to owning my M3 but I was not very involved in the M3 market, and assumed that there were none or very few in NZ. I purchased my car not knowing it was actually a factory F2AT car that had been retrimmed to black leather, and when I found out I became a little obsessive over returning it to that spec. That has been the most consuming project of this car, with the engine rebuild being a close second. 

Main list of things that have been done to the car is below:

Engine:

  • Fully rebuilt by Kayne Barrie to OE Spec
  • New OE piston rings/hone/main bearings/rod bearings/injectors/rebuilt head/all gaskets replaced/bunch of other ancillary stuff done at the same time
  • Vanos rebuilt with complete Beisan kit - seals/anti-rattle kit/oil pump disc/timing chain tensioner
  • Rogue Engineering updated high pressure vanos line
  • CSL style carbon airbox - running off OE CSL engine management (need to update to a more modern MAP sensor)

Suspension/Steering/Trans:

  • Ohlins road & track coilovers
  • 3DM Motorsport ohlins strut spacers - Allows proper ride height without preloading the spring too much when using an aftermarket camber plate
  • Ground Control street camber plates
  • Eibach rear control arms
  • Purple tag steering rack
  • CMP solid steering coupler
  • UUC EVO 3 SSK - Will eventually replace with an autosolutions kit. The UUC is too notchy, shift effort is too high, doesn't match the weighting of the other controls. 
  • Fresh OE clutch/flywheel/bushings/etc

Body/Chassis:

  • Status Gruppe CSL bootlid - Really good fitment, as close to OE as I've seen
  • Status Gruppe CSL diffuser - The opposite of good fitment. Rubbish. Waiting for a karbonius/Mile End diffuser to become available
  • Complete CMP topside subframe kit with front mount extension and underside plates. 

Wheels:

  • Style 260M square set (18x9.5 ET23)
  • Michelin PS4S 255/40/18 square
  • TMS 75mm stud kit 

Interior:

  • Factory spec M-texture interior
  • Recaro Pole Position ABE's debadged and trimmed in M-texture
  • Brey Krause brackets on factory E46 manual sliders
  • Alcantara shifter+boot/e-brake+boot
  • MirrorJohn redesigned mirror glass (Doesn't crack and leak)

 

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Edited by Harper
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@displayname Definitely looking forward to the seats going in. Unfortunately the breykrause brackets are delayed until about mid september, so waiting on those. Once they're in Ill get some glamour shots of the interior almost looking put together. 

Purple tag rack is a lower ratio and a higher rack rate than the stock rack. 3 turns lock to lock compared to 3.2 IIRC on the stock rack. Actual driving difference is negligible imo, but I was able to get the rack for about $200 so thought I would give it a shot. 

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Not much to post in here while I'm waiting on parts for the next month. So the seats definitely deserve another few photos on this thread before they go in. I'd be lying if I said they didn't come out every couple of days just to stare at them...

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Wish I was better with a camera for these. Photos don't do them justice at all. Light effects the way the alcantara top layer looks a lot. 

Something I did have a go at pre-lockdown was refinishing some trim pieces. Didn't expect it to go as well as it did so unfortunately I didn't take any before shots. My car has a mismatch of interior trim bits, all in various states of awful. The dash trim and front door handles are silver (I think known as titan 2?). These are in bad shape. The handles are peeling and scratched, brings the whole interior down. Annoyingly the finish on these is different to other types. The silver is some kind of aluminum layer on top of the plastic and really difficult to strip off.

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the rears are even stranger, they are a (very poorly executed) single piece black plastic mold. They are covered in dimples and imperfections in the plastic and are essentially total junk. Probably done by whoever did the leather retrim...

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I really just wanted a clean set in the OEM titanshadow finish. Unfortunately that proved incredibly difficult to source. Thought I had a couple times but to no avail. Eventually, a wrecked coupe came up at a wrecker yard near me so I went and grabbed the handles. They were in BAD shape. I wish I had taken photos because I really was not hopeful. The finish on the top and bottom of the handles was completely wrecked on all four. But they were $8 each so I grabbed them. Spent a few evenings stripping them down and painting them. They came up way better than I anticipated. 

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Sanding them was a total nightmare and took hours. I found I had to go as low as 180 grit dry sanding to get the bottom sections all the way back to plastic, then slowly stepping up the grit until they were smooth. I think I finished with 600 wet. For the black sections, I just used a basic rustoleum flat black paint and primer. The nozzles on their cans seem pretty good and the colour is a good match for the other blacks in the interior. I did lose the 'soft touch' that is on the OEM pieces. No big loss imo. Just about everywhere that 'soft touch' finish is on the interior has not stood the test of time, it just gets sticky and starts to peel away.  

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The top sections are trickier. No one quite knows what the paint code of the original titanshadow trim is. A friend was able to tell me that GM8573 is a pretty good match, so that's what I went with. 

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It seems to be a pretty good match, but I don't have any new OEM pieces to compare it to atm so I will report back. Really stoked on how well these came out and will be a big upgrade when they replace the old stuff. I didn't get the dash trim out of the wrecked car because someone had replaced it with some fake carbon rubbish, but fortunately all the dash trim pieces and the gear selector surround are all available for super cheap from schmiedmann. They are ordered but probably a few weeks out. I'm just hoping the paint match on the handles is close enough that it won't be too obvious, not sure what plan B will be if they are way off. 

In the meantime the car is looking better than ever, but the to-do list is ever growing. There is definitely something sexy about an E46 M3 on square 18s...

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Edited by Harper
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Epic work mate! You’ve inspired me to do my trims now. 

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Love how focused this build is - no faff and bling, just quality bits to make the car better 😎

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1 hour ago, Sammo said:

Love how focused this build is - no faff and bling, just quality bits to make the car better 😎

That's the plan. Still a few leftover meh quality aftermarket parts that I will hopefully slowly phase out. The nice thing is I have all of the original parts to return the car to completely stock (aside from the subframe reinforcement) so a few dodgy parts here and there are not a worry. 

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Nice M3, makes me wish I never sold mine a couple of years ago. 

Odd question, do you live in Beachlands ? 

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25 minutes ago, APT said:

Odd question, do you live in Beachlands ? 

Sure do.

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3 minutes ago, Harper said:

Sure do.

Followed you going up Siberia Hill a little while ago and remembered the plate, keep up the updates 😊

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3 hours ago, Harper said:

That's the plan. Still a few leftover meh quality aftermarket parts that I will hopefully slowly phase out. The nice thing is I have all of the original parts to return the car to completely stock (aside from the subframe reinforcement) so a few dodgy parts here and there are not a worry. 

Like what?

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16 minutes ago, m325i said:

Like what?

Just a few bits that bother me. The cheap angel eyes need to go, will rip them out when I get some new lenses for the headlights and go OEM. Status gruppe diffuser, rubbish fit. The SSK is preference I suppose. The actual shift lever looks to be decent quality, but just way too short of a throw imo. 

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3 hours ago, Harper said:

Just a few bits that bother me. The cheap angel eyes need to go, will rip them out when I get some new lenses for the headlights and go OEM. Status gruppe diffuser, rubbish fit. The SSK is preference I suppose. The actual shift lever looks to be decent quality, but just way too short of a throw imo. 

I think we all recall your car on TM with the fantastic photos and tasteful modifications, but it just goes to show that everyone has their preferences and individual flair. No one could argue that you've taken a great starting point to a level above.

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24 minutes ago, leichtbau said:

I think we all recall your car on TM with the fantastic photos and tasteful modifications, but it just goes to show that everyone has their preferences and individual flair. No one could argue that you've taken a great starting point to a level above.

Oh for sure. The PO was similarly obsessive over this car, and his enthusiasm for it was half the reason I chose it over others for sale at the time. All comes down to taste mostly. I used the car as I bought it for over a year and loved it, our tastes align 99%. PO was also a photographer by trade, hence the nice photos. 

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That's looking sharp! 

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The designated grocery getter. Need to add some OEM facelift tail lights to the 'to do' list. 

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Edited by Harper
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That trim has come up well, props. I'd suggest your "plan B", should the new trim not match, paint it with the same paint. You've done a good enough job on the stuff you have to convince me that it would work. 

Edited by M3AN
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Awesome work Harper, loving what you are doing !! I own the LSB M3 with Mtex interior, do have any of the material ,or know where I can get some, dont need it right now, but would be great to have some spare?? The drivers seat base wears quite badly!!

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@AutoglymI likely won't have any leftover. It is fairly available but pricey. If you want the reproduction fabric by ASC (which is as far as I can tell indistinguishable from the OE fabric), made with the same alcantara perforated the same way, same cloth base layer etc (https://www.ascfabrics.com/product-page/mtexture). However, the OE stuff is still available from some places at a slightly higher price (part # is 51922698028, sold by the meter I believe.) although it is all old stock so not quite as fresh as brand new stuff. 

With that being said, I would be cautious only replacing the bases for instance. You would probably want to do the whole seat, if not both front seats. The reason being that the alcantara goes quite gray over time from UV and the colour difference in the new stuff would be obvious. From memory yours was in pretty good shape so it might be a decent match, worth getting a sample though. It came out of the car seen in this video at about 120,000k when it was binned : 

 

Edited by Harper

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@Harper might have skimmed over it, but what's the plan for running non folding PP's up front? Rear belts removed and a seat delete?

Further to that, I'd be interested to find how the CSL got around this - are the CSL seats a Recaro model and how did their tilting mechanism work?

Edit: have to laugh at that video, the rebound in the suspension it was running is woeful. You'd have to wonder if that factored into its demise.

Edited by leichtbau

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@leichtbauThat is definitely a compromise with the fixed back seats. I will be running brey krause brackets (when they eventually arrive!!) on factory manual sliders so they can slide all the way forward and have much better travel than most aftermarket sliders. This means the backseats are 'accessible' but pretty much emergency only. Getting into the back will be made more difficult by the seatbelt routing with the PP's as well. The rear seats will remain in my car, even if only for looks. Once all the mtexture bits are in I think the rear seats look really good, hopefully those are the first thing to be done post lockdown. 

There are other options like the Cobra Nogaro which doesn't have a cutout for the seatbelt and a lower cut thigh bolster (much like the CSL seats). The nogaros are arguably a better street seat but tbh I just prefer the shape of the recaros and I think they look a bit more OEM. The CSL does have a tilt mechanism, but from what I have heard it doesn't make all that much of a difference. IIRC, the CSL seats are a modified pole position but in reality they are a totally different design with only the very basic shape carried over. The ultimate seat for me would be a CSL seat trimmed up how I want it but considering Tom's set is for sale for $25k it's probably a no go...

In the end I opted for the recaros even given the compromises. I have never found the reclinable seats like the recaro sportsters very comfortable or supportive and the cost difference is pretty huge. I also essentially never take more than one passenger in the m3. And I chose them over the nogaros because they look better and a bit more OEM. My understanding is the stock recaro PP was what was used in the strassenversion GTR M3's, or at least that's what I'll tell myself every time I have to squeeze past them into the backseat. 

Edited by Harper
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Bit of an update:

My new dash trim arrived today. The paint I used on the handles is pretty much perfect. I don't think you could easily tell my homemade spray painted handles from brand new OEM ones judging by the finish on the new pieces. Honestly much better than I could have hoped for. Got a bit carried away and ended up ordering a brand new centre console switch centre (part that is removed in the third pic). I did pull it out with the intention of refinishing it the same way I did the underside of the door handles. It was in much worse shape though. Really scratched up and sticky. However once getting it out it was clear that a previous owner had hacked it up and it was held together with silicone anyway, probably for an aftermarket head unit or something. $300 later and a brand new one is coming. Ouch. Should make everything feel a bit fresher though. Once the seats are in, all that's really left on the interior is an alcantara wheel and new A and C pillars (sagging), then I'll have a breather for a while.

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The following all happened prior to the above and is much less interesting but I thought I might as well do a photo dump and that way it's documented. 

Best thing about lockdown so far has been ticking off all the sh*t jobs I didn't want to touch, nothing very exciting (hopefully that is to come in the next few weeks). Biggest one being painting the CMP subframe reinforcement bar. Was terrified of getting overspray somewhere that mattered or it looking rubbish so my boot was left stripped out for weeks. Finally got to it last week. Basically spent a whole day just turning the interior into a spray booth, paranoid about overspray. 

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I had already previously stripped the spare wheel well down to bare metal as a previous owner at some point, not the person I bought the car from, had fiberglassed a subwoofer in and there was a bunch of leftover fiberglass stuck to the boot floor. Fool. Primer then paint went on. Just used the titanium silver body colour. 

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Goal was never really to make it perfect. Just improve it. The CMP stuff is never going to look super OEM so as long as it looks decent then I can live with it. It is in the boot after all. The paint came up really good. Finish was nice enough given I couldn't clean or sand the surface perfectly. 

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Next was the miserable job of cutting the carpets to size. Climbed in and out of the boot countless times and going back and removing slightly more. Came up with an okay enough fit I think. The board that goes underneath the carpets was a bit trickier because it had to be cut with a jigsaw and fit around the tube sections on the main beam. I managed to get it close enough but not perfect. My jigsaw skills are a 5/10 at best. If I was really smart I would have left the centre section slightly longer and it would have tucked under the beam nicely. I'll know for next time...

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Didn't like the exposed silver between the bars either so I made some templates out of cardboard and cut some sections to fit from a donor boot floor carpet I had. 

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Everything went back in with brand new clips. Once the carpet was in with my new OEM trunk mat it looks about as close to factory as I'm going to get. Only sign of it is a hump in the floor, and when you pull back the carpets it's not too ugly. Stoked. 20210905_130740.thumb.jpg.7395933b1f3025602ebc63ba00c4b0d1.jpg

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Edited by Harper
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Nice work!

The only thing I disapprove (😉) of is the Alcantara knob, that's 100% guaranteed to look sh*t soon enough unless you wear driving gloves every time you get in. 

The rest? Pretty-much perfect, great to see an icon getting the love it deserves.

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