With a striking green and yellow colour scheme and 625hp from its boosted V8, this awesome, full-on supercharged BMW M3 E90 is one serious build.
Feature taken from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Brian McGee
The E9x M3 has the honour of being the only V8-powered M3 ever made and that V8, the S65, is a very special engine but in the context of modding one thing does come to mind – do you keep it NA or not? On the one hand you’ve got that incredible feeling you only get with a high-revving, naturally aspirated engine: the throttle response, that wonderful sensation of all the power building exponentially as the engine howls towards the redline and it almost feels like your duty to preserve that experience for posterity. But then again, when you weigh up the costs of NA modding compared with the possibility of over 600hp with virtually no effort, it’s a decision that’s easily made because a supercharged V8 is just something on a whole other level.
Mario Kassamani (@e90mario) is someone who totally gets that because not supercharging his M3 was never even an option – he’d slapped on a supercharger within his first week of ownership and that tells you a lot about what kind of guy he is. He loves BMs, he loves modding and he’s not about wasting time or waiting – he knows what he wants, he gets it done and the results speak for themselves. He is also something of a rebel and it’s actually a surprise to see him sitting behind a Bavarian roundel when you learn about his motoring upbringing. “I grew up in a strictly Mercedes-Benz household, so naturally I wanted what I didn’t have,” he laughs. “In 2001 a family friend bought a brand new E38 740iL, I remember instantly falling in love with it from the moment I saw it. To me, the experience and feel of a BMW is incomparable to anything else. I also love the community, as I’ve met some of the most important people in my life today through BMW forums, meets and car shows. Old or new, I’ll always have a strong love for BMWs,” he says with a smile. “My first BMW was a 2008 E90 328i. They had been out for just a couple years and 335is were out of my price range at the time. It was a great first BMW. I did just about everything I could to that car and sold it to a close friend eight years later,” he says and the current stable is home to this E90 M3, a 2004 E46 ZHP and a 1973 2002, a trio to be proud of and no mistake but it’s the M3 that we’re all here for and it’s been on quite a journey during its time with Mario.
“I wasn’t in the market for an E90 M3, but when a friend of mine reached out to me directly to let me know he was selling his mint, low-mile slicktop I couldn’t resist. I picked up the car on 21 November 2016 and quickly went to work,” he grins. “My goal was to build a head-turning show car with complete track-ready, road course functionality, I just didn’t realise it was going to escalate so quickly to what the car is today,” he laughs and how many times have heard that before? Mario’s M3 has been through four very distinct stages, as he explains; “Phase one is where I thought it would all stop – clean daily, fun track car. Boy was I wrong!” he chuckles. “Within my first week of ownership she was supercharged, wrapped in Atlantis blue, on coilovers and sitting on TE37 SLs; from there things began to progress,” he says with a smile. Phase 2 revolved around recreating the Jeff Koons Art Car with a custom wrap and a few months later he found out that his E90 was going to SEMA, which meant a fresh new look was needed. “This was very special for me, since it has been a dream to have one of my cars showcased at the world’s biggest automotive convention,” he says. “I knew it was time to step it up again. Believe it or not, green is actually not my favourite colour, neither is yellow, but I wanted something unique while also keeping it true to BMW. I was a fan of Java green and found that the BMW Individual NA program produced only 11 Java green E92 M3s but never an E90, so that’s what I went with, full respray, all the way down to pulling out the motor. I also had the interior refreshed with new seats, steering wheel and custom upholstery and lots of carbon goodies and aero in and on the car. After SEMA I decided to make the E90 more daily drivable so I could enjoy it every day rather than just on the weekends. I ditched the roll-cage, rear seat-delete, racing harnesses and big wing for a much cleaner and more practical setup. And that’s what you have today, a perfectly balanced, functional four-door monster ready to let out all 625hp in OEM+ clothing!” he exclaims and, for many, that’s the perfect M3.
A huge part of this car’s appeal is the aforementioned supercharger that we’ve been getting excited about. As V8-lovers the thought of adding forced induction to one of our favourite engines just fills us with joy and Mario has really gone to town on his S65 to ensure that it would give him many years of happy supercharged service. “We started off by dropping the front subframe to replace the OEM rod bearings with high performance coated ones to support future modifications,” he explains. “We then followed by adding the ESS Tuning VT2-625 supercharger kit and TiAL blow-off valve paired with a custom map and DCT tune. To avoid any overheating issues, we added a performance triple-pass radiator, oil cooler, power steering cooler and transmission cooler courtesy of CSF. We finally topped everything off with an AWRON velocity stack to feed live information to the digital telemetry gauge,” explains Mario and that’s an awesome combo of mods that adds up to one seriously powerful S65. The intake manifold has been custom-finished in vibrant yellow and that seriously strong citrusy combo with the Java paintwork is a feast for the eyes and one you’ll find across the whole car. In addition to all that, he’s also added a Macht Schnell cat-less X-pipe and an Agency Power exhaust to unleash some more of that sublime V8 noise from the supercharged BMW M3 E90.
With an awful lot more power to play with, Mario has not forgotten about his M3’s chassis and has chosen the perfect mods that allow him to make the most of all that performance. “I did a lot of research when it came to finding the perfect suspension to suit my needs, and ultimately decided to go with Bilstein B16 Damptronic coilovers,” he says. “I loved that I could adjust them easily between road and track while still retaining the M3’s EDC features,” and that’s definitely a big draw, as having the height-adjustment of coilovers with electronic damper adjustment similar to the stock EDC setup is the perfect combo. In addition to the coilovers, Mario has also treated his M3 to a serious brake upgrade, with his chosen BBK being one of StopTech’s monster setups, with six-pot calipers and 380mm discs up front and four-pots and 355mm discs at the rear, which gives this M3 some epic stopping power, and the calipers have naturally been finished in striking yellow to match the rest of the colour scheme.
The whole lemon and lime theme is visible everywhere you look throughout the whole car and the attention to detail is really something else, with Mario really putting in the effort to make this a complete build. We begin with that Java green respray and it’s an awesome colour choice – yes, it’s not for everyone but if you’re going to go green, this is the way to do it. In terms of styling and aero, it’s all about carbon for Mario’s M3 and it looks awesome against the Java green canvas; star of the show is probably that spectacular Arkym vented carbon bonnet, which just looks so ridiculously aggressive and we love the way that Mario has opted to let little slivers of carbon just show through here and there, adding an extra dimension to the visual drama. There are custom OSS headlights with aggressively angular angel eyes and a meaty carbon GTS front lip that really fills out that front bumper and adds a whole lot more aggression to this M3’s front end, further aided by the addition of that yellow tow strap. There are Dinmann carbon side blades and a seriously sexy sculpted carbon diffuser that looks frankly outrageous, and it’s joined at the rear by a carbon BMW M Performance spoiler and black M3 and ESS badges for good measure.
When it came to choosing some wheels for the M3, Mario found himself in a rather fortunate position; “A good friend of mine is the founder of Stance Wheels and I had mentioned to him that I really liked the clean look of the SF-03. A couple weeks later he was cutting my new wheels in custom specs to fit my car!” which was nice, and we can see why Mario is a fan. The clean, twin five-spoke design of these 19s works really well on the E90 and there’s enough detail on them to make them stand out while the custom brushed finish is just gorgeous. We also have to mention Mario’s track setup, because that consists of a set of 18” BBS E88s, easily one of the German giant’s most iconic motorsport designs, and he’s added his own little touch in the shape of some Japan green centre caps to keep that colour scheme on point. Put all of that together and you’ve got yourself what has got to be one of the best-looking E90 M3s we’ve seen. Everything just looks so right and blends together so well and it exudes just the right amount of pumped-up aggression without coming on too strong, and that takes some skill.
If you thought the outside was impressive, though, the inside really takes things up a notch and Mario has not been slacking with this interior; this is where his eye for detail really shines and there is so much to get your teeth into here. “Clean, comfortable and functional were the three things I had focused on with the interior,” he says, “I decided on the Sparco SPX seats which paired comfort and sport and carried on a carbon/leather/Alcantara, black with yellow stitching theme throughout the entire interior,” and he’s not kidding when he says the whole interior because it feels like there’s nothing that hasn’t been given that individual touch in here. The mix of leather, Alcantara and yellow stitching is carried over to the custom-trimmed rear bench while the carbon seat backs are a spectacular finishing element. The door cards, handbrake and gear selector gaiters have all been trimmed in Alcantara with yellow stitching and the armrest has also been treated to some of that yellow stitching goodness. Then you’ve got that custom Dinmann carbon steering wheel with yellow centre stripe, the yellow gauges, IND yellow seat belts and even the floor mats have yellow borders – it’s a riot of colour-coding. The finishing touches are the extended aluminium shift paddles, aluminium pedals and the vent-mounted AWRON digital gauge. It really is an awesome interior and even if you’re not a particularly big fan of yellow, you have to respect that amount of work that Mario has put in here.
That really is the watchword for this whole build because you just can’t put a car of this calibre together casually, you really have to show commitment and have the vision to bring all your ideas together and make it all work, and Mario has absolutely done that. We have featured a lot of supercharged E90 M3s over the years but we still get excited about them and when we’re presented with a car like Mario’s, can you blame us? This build is M3 goals: this is what you aim for if you have an E9x M3, it’s an aspirational machine and one that’s really come so far from stock it’s just unreal.
So, after four distinctly different build phases and a mountain of mods that have resulted in Mario’s perfect dream build, for the time being at least this car is done but Mario’s certainly not done with modding. “I’m currently working on and am almost done with a ground up restoration of my 1977 Porsche 911S Targa. However, my next full BMW build will be an E9, possibly a 3.0 CSL tribute,” he says which, based on this build, is bound to be something a little bit special. It’s going to have to go a long way to better this stunning M3, though, bursting with its citrus colour scheme that was made for the California sun and mods that were made to make you love this car, and we really do.
Tech Spec: Supercharged BMW M3 E90
Engine and Transmission:
4.0-litre V8 S65B40, ESS VT2-625 supercharger kit, TiAL 50mm blow-off valve, high-performance rod bearings, CSF triple-pass radiator, oil cooler, power steering cooler and transmission cooler, custom map, Macht Schnell Race cat-less X-pipe, Agency Power exhaust. M DCT seven-speed gearbox, custom DCT tune
Road Setup (as pictured): 9.5×19” (front) and 11×19” (rear) Stance Wheels SF03 in custom liquid brushed finish with 275/30 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Hankook V12 evo2 tyres; race setup: 9.5×18” (front) and 10.5×18” (rear) BBS E88 wheels with BBS Japan Green centre caps and 255/35 (front) and 285/35 (rear) Toyo R888R tyres, Bilstein B16 Damptronic coilovers, StopTech BBK with 380x35mm discs and six-piston calipers (front) and 355x35mm discs and four-piston calipers (rear)
Full respray in Java green, Arkym carbon fibre vented bonnet, carbon fibre GTS front lip, custom OSS Design headlights, yellow tow strap, Dinmann carbon fibre side blades and rear diffuser, BMW M Performance spoiler, black
M3 and ESS badges
Sparco SPX carbon-back front seats trimmed in leather and Alcantara with yellow stitching, matching custom-finished rear seats and door cards, Alcantara handbrake and gear selector gaiters with yellow stitching, custom-trimmed armrest with yellow stitching, IND yellow seat belts, AWRON digital vent gauge, custom Dinmann carbon fibre steering wheel with yellow centre stripe, yellow gauges, IND floor mats with yellow borders