With massive power, full-on styling and a stunning, carbon-clad interior, this F80 M3 is a force to be reckoned with.
It’s hard to believe that F80 M3 production will be coming to an end in a matter of months, because in our minds the muscular saloon has only been on sale for about five minutes. It hasn’t, of course, because it went on sale back in 2014 but time flies when you’re enjoying high performance BMWs, clearly. The reason it’s being killed off prematurely is due to ever-tighter emissions regulations – we’ve got full details on the story in our News and Products pages in this issue – but what matters is that production will end this year and if you want an F8x-flavour M car you will have to make do with the M4 as that will soldier on well into 2019, which is good news at least. To many people, the M3 is the better-looking car, regardless of what the sales figures might say, and Philipp Maas is clearly one of those people. The ferocious four-door stole his heart and his “Stormtrooper” M3 is one of the most awesome examples we’ve ever come across.
While Philipp might currently reside in Arizona he actually grew up in Germany, which explains a lot. “Naturally growing up in Germany through the ’80s and ’90s I was surrounded and exposed to European cars only,” he tells us. “I first noticed BMW as a brand when visiting my uncle in an area called Eifel, which some may know as the area where the Nürburgring is located. I may have been only nine or 10 years of age as he showed me his collection of BMW motorcycles, from antiques through classic and modern. But, standing behind his beloved BMW motorcycle and sidecar, was a blue E30 M3 in its full glory. That day he took me and my brother for a spin in the M3 as well as in the sidecar; I don’t know which of the two was more fun but, regardless, I learned that BMW literally meant “Freude am fahren [driving pleasure].” Despite those seeds having been sown so early on, it would take a few years before Philipp ended up behind the wheel of his own BM, with a low-mileage, 1992 E36 325i Coupé with a selection of choice mods. “I still miss it all these years later, but will hopefully find a similar E36 one day to call my own once more. This time, however, it will be the M3,” he grins.
Speaking of M3s, we should definitely talk about this one, because it’s just spectacular but, interestingly, it wasn’t a planned purchase at all. “Shortly after moving from Florida to Arizona with my F02 750Li I got rear-ended, which totaled the vehicle. With a newborn at home and work to get to I was in need to get into a new car quickly,” Philipp explains. “A new generation 7 Series seemed to be out of my price range and I was missing the excitement I enjoyed with smaller cars. I remembered seeing this white F80 in the garage of our loft in downtown Miami where we had lived. Three days after my accident I walked into Chapman BMW in Chandler and asked if they had an M3 on the lot. They did. Luckily it was white as I remembered it from Miami, but it was used and not 100% equipped as I wanted it. Nevertheless, waiting three months for a new one was out of question so, after a quick test drive, I couldn’t sign the bill of sale quick enough,” he laughs. Having modded most of his past cars, from his Clio and Twingo to his Dodge Ram and 7 Series, you might think that Philipp went into M3 ownership fully prepared to go to town on his latest acquisition, but you’d be dead wrong. “I did have a plan for the car,” he says, “Keep it 100% stock… That obviously didn’t work out as planned,” he laughs. “It took only four days after purchase and the car was lowered on springs. I’m a repeat offender and hopeless addict and dreamer of modifications in the never-ending search of my individualism,” he confesses, which makes him one of us.
While Philipp started off small, as you can plainly see things quickly snowballed out of control, which is what we like. Things began slowly enough, with the aforementioned springs, satin black kidney grilles, then the stock silver wheels were changed for the two-tone version and then Philipp added M Performance side skirts, front lip and diffuser. He then drove the car 400 miles to LA to get the ECU tuned, high-flow downpipes fitted along with charge pipes and open intakes. That was just the start, though, and from that point on the car began to evolve, transforming into the machine you see before you now.
There has been an immense amount of work poured into this car and we love everything about it but one of our favourite things is without doubt the engine. Not only has Philipp extracted some serious power from the S55 but he’s also managed to make it look good too, which is not so easy these days with acres of black plastic under every BMW bonnet. Philipp fitted Gintani cat-less downpipes and a GTHaus GTC exhaust system and then went to town with a selection of CSF goodies as the car was going to be displayed on the company’s stand at Bimmerfest 2017.
“We added a mid-pipe, CSF DCT cooler, CSF heat exchanger and CSF top-mount intercooler; this was the first carbon fibre hydro-dipped version ever produced and both CSF and I took a risk as we didn’t know how well the hydro dip would perform in a hot engine bay, especially knowing Arizona’s outside temperatures of over 120°F [over 50°C] in summer. I’m happy to report that it does last even under those temperatures,” he grins. “All components went in without a hitch until Parts Score, the shop that handles all my custom work I can’t do myself, called. The newly-installed CSF heat exchanger fitted just fine, but the velocity stacks of the MSR front-mount intake were not able to pass the significantly larger heat exchanger. After brainstorming with George from MSR, Ravi at CSF and Jason at Parts Score, we decided to modify the existing velocity stacks by cutting them and welding them back together, making way to clear the newly-installed heat exchanger.” Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of Philipp’s troubles with his engine mods. “Once everything was put back together we noticed smoke coming from the exhaust. Long story short, the OEM turbo seals were leaking oil, which hadn’t been visible prior to the mid-pipe being installed,” he explains. For most people, that would be a less-than-ideal situation but, one thing we all know, is that when something breaks it means you get to replace it with something better. “Jesse of Pure Turbos had a set of HiFlow turbos ready to go as it seemed to be the more reasonable alternative,” says Philipp.
“So one thing led to another and with new turbos it was time to get the right tune. With Pro Tuning Freaks releasing multiple OTS tunes and their user/tuner-friendly flash platform BM3, Cary of Jordan Tuning wrote a complete new map for US 91 octane pump gas resulting in 565whp and 591lb ft wtq.” Now that’s an immense amount of power but the fact that it’s made on regular unleaded, the equivalent of 95 octane fuel here in the UK, is absolutely insane. No ethanol mix, no meth injection, just a hell of a lot of mods, a custom map and regular unleaded petrol. Most impressive. And would you just look at that engine bay? It looks so awesome, with that carbon fibre engine cover, those Sakhir orange charge pipes, that hydro-dipped CSF chargecooler, the billet caps and dress up hardware, all combining to make this engine a feast for the eyes.
So it’s very powerful, but this M3 is also quite the striking machine and styling was – and still is – a big part of the project, with Philipp constantly adding and changing elements and it’s come a long way from its first incarnation. “After initially setting the car up more conservatively with the M Performance parts and with that re-igniting my passion to create my personal version of a car, I started researching online section by section, part by part what companies had to offer. I was trying to see what would possibly work with each other aesthetically,” he says, and we’d say all the research paid off. The M3 is without doubt one of the best-looking performance saloons on the market today and Philipp’s is a slice of sheer aggression, with all the aero components working together perfectly to accentuate the muscular styling. Up front there’s an AC Schnitzer front lip with carbon upper elements, and these flow into the Enlaes side skirts. “Those I picked because they were different. Why design the wing in the front and not the rear? I didn’t know, but I loved the idea and conversation piece they provided,” smiles Philipp. There are carbon eyebrows that sit on top of each headlight cluster, an MCP Racing front grille and the small matter of the genuine GTS carbon fibre bonnet. The dramatic rear diffuser, meanwhile, is a composite work of art, consisting of a Kohlenstoff Tuning diffuser with integrated F1-style brake light combined, via 12 hours of custom work, with an RW Carbon Varis-style undertray and it is simply magnificent. Then you’ve got the PSM Dynamic carbon boot lid and roof spoilers, the latter being just one of three ever produced, and numerous additional touches like the body-colour front bumper reflectors. It all adds up to create an incredibly aggressive and visually striking M3, and the contrast of the black and white colour scheme throughout works so well.
On the suspension front Philipp has fitted a set of H&R Super Sport springs, which are designed to deliver a bigger drop and they do, getting those fat arches hunkered down nice and low and filling them you will find a set of 20” BC Forged HCA16S wheels. These two-piece beauties measure 10” across up front and a hefty 11” wide at the rear and you won’t find any stretched tyres here. This is a high-performance machine with masses of power and so Philipp has wrapped his rims in the fattest rubber he could, with 275/35 tyres up front and monster 305s out back. The BCs themselves are stunning and, when you get up close, you realise there’s a lot more to them than meets the eye; the centres are brushed black, the lips are gloss black, the hardware is titanium and so are the wheel nuts. Each of these is finished with a snazzy blue tip, to match the exhaust, and features a custom, laser-etched Stormtrooper helmet logo at the centre of each one, which is insane attention to detail.
Finally we reach the interior and it does not disappoint, even after having experienced that wild engine bay and the full-on exterior. The whole cabin is absolutely covered in carbon, covered in it, with pretty much every surface finished in that gorgeous, mesmerising black weave; as Philipp himself says: “You can’t have enough carbon fibre.” Most of the interior trim comes courtesy of Dinmann, which offers an extensive range of carbon parts but also makes custom parts by refinishing OE components in carbon for the perfect fit. Philipp’s M3 boasts carbon seat backs with custom M stripes, carbon window trims, speaker covers, steering column and headlight switch trim. Autotecknik carbon fibre shift paddles and door handle covers have been fitted and the M Performance catalogue has been well and truly plundered, with a Sport steering wheel with race display and carbon trim, carbon fibre DCT trim, door pulls, mats, pedals and then you’ve got the little extra touches, like the blue Start/Stop trim and the Start/Stop button itself is a red IND item. Beyond all that there’s still so much more and everywhere you look you find additional details and mods that just make this such a special interior.
This has got to be one of the most comprehensively-modified M3s we’ve ever come across and, honestly, it feels like mere words on a page simply can’t do it justice. So much work has gone into it but it’s not just the massive power or the ultra-aggressive styling that gets you, it’s all the little extra touches that Philipp has gone out of his way to source and fit, the attention to detail, like those wheel nuts. It’s that sort of thing that sets this car apart and it really is exceptional. Almost unbelievably though, Philipp is not finished… “I’ve ordered blue seatbelts, and an IND keyhole cover and I’m planning on getting a set of Recaro Sportster CS seats, maybe air-ride, a secondary custom tune for 100 octane race gas and more carbon pieces such as the HUD trim, centre speaker trim and rear air-con panel,” he smiles. Beyond that, who knows what he’s got planned and, with plans to upgrade to a G80 M3 Competition Pack when it’s released some time in 2020, he’s got plenty of time to take his F80 M3 ever further. That might seem like an impossible task, but we reckon Philipp will find a way.
ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION
3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30, M Performance carbon fibre engine cover, Burger Motorsports billet aluminium oil thermostat lid and caps, CSF carbon fibre hydro-dipped top-mount dual pass charge air intercooler, CSF front-mount heat exchanger, Downstar engine billet dress up hardware, Downstar custom billet oil cap, Pure Turbos Stage 2 HiFlow turbos, Gintani catless downpipes, GTHaus SUS GTC exhaust with valve control and 4x90mm blued Titanium tips, GTHaus resonated mid-pipe, MSR
front-mount open air intakes in Sakhir orange, MSR Sakhir orange charge pipes, Pro Tuning Freaks BM3 flash platform with custom tune. M DCT seven-speed gearbox, CSF dual pass race-spec DCT cooler, Pro Tuning Freaks GTS DCT
POWER AND TORQUE
565whp and 591lb ft wtq
10×20” (front) and 11×20” (rear) BC Forged HCA16S two-piece wheels with brushed black centres, gloss black lips and titanium hardware, 275/30 (front) and 305/25 (rear) Toyo Proxes T1 Sport tyres, Tikore titanium wheel nuts with blued tips to match exhaust tips and custom laser-etched Stormtrooper helmet logo, H&R Super Sport Springs
AC Schnitzer carbon fibre front spoiler and front splitter, MCP Racing lower bumper grille custom-painted Mineral white, Autotecknic carbon fibre headlight covers, IND gloss black grilles, BMW GTS carbon fibre bonnet, bonnet dome wrap by Signature Graphics AZ, IND black side markers, IND Mineral white painted front bumper reflectors, JBSpeed front and rear carbon fibre roundels, Enlaes side skirts, PSM Dynamics carbon fibre boot lid spoiler and roof spoiler, OE LCI rear lights, Kohlenstoff Tuning carbon fibre diffuser with third F1-style brake light, RW Carbon Varis-style undertray custom-fitted to diffuser
AC Schnitzer handbrake handle, BMW M Performance handbrake gaiter, Autotecknic carbon fibre shift paddles and door handle covers (front and rear), blue Start/Stop trim, IND red Start/Stop button, BMW LED door projectors (front and rear), Dinmann custom carbon fibre gear selector with M stripes, carbon fibre seat backs with custom M stripes, carbon fibre window trim, speaker covers (front and rear), steering wheel column, fascia trim, headlight switch trim, passenger vent and stereo trim, Northwest Carbon dashboard ends, JB Speed carbon fibre steering wheel roundel, BMW M Performance Alcantara Sport steering wheel with race display and carbon fibre trim, Alcantara and carbon fibre DCT trim, carbon fibre door pulls (front and rear), carbon fibre and Alcantara armrest, mats and stainless steel pedals, fully custom-coded, Recaro Performance Racing child seat, Speedtactics fire extinguisher bracket, 2.5lb fire extinguisher, hardwired Escort Radar detector
I would like to thank Jason and the team at Parts Score, Jonathan at BC Forged NA, Ravi of CSF Radiators, John of GTHaus, Charlie at Tikore, Cannan at Dinmann, Frank at Downstar, George at MSR, Jesse and Steve at Pure Turbos, the Team at Pro Tuning Freaks, Cary of Jordan Tuned, Shane of Chapman BMW Chandler, Christian at MCP Racing, Brian at Autotecknic, Florian at AC Schnitzer and Victor at iDL Garage, Ken at Signature Graphics, my good friend Adrian who keeps passing by and helping me when I need a second hand and last but not least my wife Katrina and daughter Hannah for their continuous support, understanding and shared love for the project
Words: Elizabeth de tour
Photos: Evolutionized Photography