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2004 BMW M3 - Hard Top Jaw Drop

We follow Max Shapiro’s progress from American Muscle to a 435hp supercharged BMW M3.

By , Photography by Kevin Choi

While we’re all reading this magazine because we love European cars, not all of us reach this point by the same route. The hardcore enthusiasts claim to have never deviated from European manufacturers, but some of us haven’t been so lucky…

Max Shapiro’s untraditional background, for example, began at the ripe age of 15 with a Chevy Camaro as his first car. However, he’s quick to point out the hunk of metal didn’t last long before a string of VWs lead him to one of his favorite cars to date; a Mk4 R32.

Max enjoyed the R, enhancing it with a few mods until the summer of 2010 when he fell in love with an E46 M3 Convertible. “It was a great platform. Right out of the box it was a monster,” Max said. “But as much as I loved driving with the top down, I knew I needed a coupe because I wanted to modify it.”

A few months later the convertible was traded for an ’04 M3 Coupe that now sits in his driveway. As predicted, he immediately attended to the stance, lowering the car on KW coilovers, stiffening the shell with a variety of Rogue Engineering components.

Seeking something unique to fill the arches, Max contacted Manu Gill at DPE Wheels. They were able to narrow down the size, design and even create a custom finish for him. This resulted in the 19" ST7 wheels here, with a staggered fitment of 9" front and 10" rear.

Manu suggested the wheel centers be brushed aluminum with a tinted clearcoat to create more depth than traditional finishes. The multi-piece wheels were then bolted together with polished step-lips before strapping on Continental DW tires.

Happy with the outcome, Max addressed the stock brakes, which had suddenly become an embarrassment. He added wheel-filling 355mm slotted StopTech rotors all round, with bright-red six-piston front calipers and four-pistons on the rear.

Giving the new wheels a special touch, DPE color-matched its limited-edition center caps to the new brakes.

Max wanted to flaunt the M3’s natural lines, so fitting Vorsteiner’s V2 CSL bumper up front gave it a factory look. A one-piece carbon lip then provided a bit more aggression.

Continuing the theme, a carbon Scorza CSL diffuser hung over the exhaust tips, and a double-sided carbon CSL trunk topped it off: the carbon weave was left exposed on the lip and around the license plate.

With the package coming together, Max took the M3 to a show in Charlotte, NC over the following summer. Meeting with Billy at Beemer Evolution, they installed a carbon-look vinyl roof on the M3. Visually, it matched the gills, kidney grilles and the carbon roundels, completing the black and silver concept.

Gen 6

Then the mailman delivered a large box from Active Autowerke in Miami. It was a Generation Six stage 1 supercharger kit. Putting his faith in the instructions, Max installed everything over a weekend, mounting the oil-cooled HKS GTS8550 supercharger along with a new intake manifold with its twin blow-off valves. The front bumper had to be modified to fit the huge front-mount intercooler, but it allowed him to introduce Maserati GranSport mesh into the main bumper duct.

Finally, Active Autowerke software persuaded the six-cylinder to release 435hp at the wheels with 10psi boost pressure. “It’s really an amazing product and is always admired every time somebody looks into the engine bay. And the power it produces give me a grin from ear-to-ear every time!” Max laughed.

Any other modifications under the hood might be overshadowed but are certainly audibly present. They include custom headers as well as a Custom Performance Innovation exhaust with 200-cell cats finished with a Milltek muffler. “Its not super-loud, but you know it definitely means business at WOT!” Max laughed.

Shifting to the interior, Max wanted to match the aggressive exterior, so started with a pair of Cobra Misano Anniversary seats. The carbon-backed beauties were wrapped in black leather, then stitched with grey thread in a diamond pattern.

Additional parts included an AutoTecknic carbon shift knob and e-brake handle, along with an alcantara-wrapped steering wheel and shift boot.

At this point, with the performance dialed in, Max decided to treat himself to a Dynavin head unit front and center. The touchscreen has navigation and DVD playback, which was deemed vital for upcoming road trips along the East Coast, to car shows such as Bimmerfest East, which is where we first discovered Max and his marvelous M3.

Max is justifiably proud of his blown M3, even imagining that if BMW was to reproduce a factory-tuned E46, it would probably be the spitting image of his!

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