Paint a car in a stunning colour and its appeal increases immeasurably and this gorgeous tuned F80 M3, finished in Individual Daytona Violet and then effortlessly enhanced with some seriously sexy mods, is as desirable as they come.
Feature from Performance BMW. Words: Elizabet de Latour. Photos: Josh Cole
Colour plays an incredibly important role when it comes to the appeal of a car and the attraction we feel towards it – ordinary colours are fine, if you like that sort of thing, but we love something a little more vivid in our lives. That Sean Millard’s (@m_azingdv) purchase of this stunning F80 M3 was based pretty much solely on its Daytona violet paintwork is completely understandable, and as if it wasn’t already a fantastic-looking machine he’s proceeded to turn it into a truly awesome build.
That this is such an impressive project comes as no surprise when you learn that Sean has long been passionate about BMs and the F80 M3 in particular; “I have a car-crazy family and have loved BMWs since the ’80s,” he grins. “The first one I remember was my mum’s 2002 tii and German cars were always in the family’s stable. The more recent M cars grabbed my attention and the body lines of the F80 had me sold. I wanted a suitable replacement for my B7 RS4 and this was one of the only cars that looked better to me,” he says and while we’re not surprised by his choice, we are surprised by what he tells us next… “This is actually my first BMW,” he chuckles. “Before the F80 M3, I’ve had a tonne of cars over the last 30 years including Audis, VWs and some Japanese cars,” and while it may have taken him a while to finally get behind the wheel of a BM, it’s fair to say that he’s making up for lost time in a big way.
“I fell in love with the Individual Daytona violet colour from the E36 days and was on a mission to track down an F80 in this shade,” he says as we chat about his M3. We have to commend him on his tenacity because, according to Sean’s extensive research, there are only three manual Daytona F80 M3s in North America, which is what he wanted, and the chances of finding one for sale was incredibly slim, but not zero… “I found this vehicle in Boston, Massachusetts at a BMW dealership and immediately flew up from Pennsylvania to buy it. After nearly a year of searching I swear it was fate, as the odds of finding one, especially in a manual, were near-impossible. The car was bone-stock and was immaculate with 8900 miles on it,” and it just might have been the find of Sean’s life. And the car wasn’t going to be staying stock for very long… “I had ideas before I even sourced the car,” Sean laughs. “I’ve never had a bone-stock car for long, the mods usually begin the day it comes home,” he adds and with a vision in mind for his M3 build, he got stuck in.
Sean is clearly an aesthetic guy seeing as he spent a year hunting down his dream Daytona M3 and so the first item on his to-do list was enhancing the F80’s looks, which was dealt with via the heavy-hitting combo of suspension and wheels. “The suspension was done immediately to get rid of the massive fender gap,” Sean grins, “and since the car was not going to be tracked, I opted for EMD springs. I spoke with several F80 M3 owners who loved them, they have the absolute perfect drop and handling for a spring option. In all of my previous builds, coilovers were utilised and I have to admit I was shocked with how good the EMD springs actually are,” says an impressed Sean.
When it came to what wheels to match to that reduced ride height there was only one choice as far as he was concerned. “It has always been BBS since day one and the LM-R with Diamond Black really pops on this car. Not to mention, Jesse Hemans and the BBS team are such great people to deal with,” Sean adds. You can’t go wrong with BBS and the LM-R is an awesome wheel that looks so good on the F80 M3, especially with those Diamond Black centres, custom gold hardware and polished lips. They’re mounted on an MRG titanium stud kit while the calipers have been custom-painted Daytona violet for that finishing touch and just these mods alone immediately made a huge difference to this M3’s appearance. With his F80 sitting how he wanted it Sean now turned his attention to what was sitting under
The S55 is built for tuning and for Sean there was no question about getting stuck into making his M3 faster. He kicked things off with a Stage 2 Pro Tuning Freaks bootmod3 tune, VRSF downpipes and an Active Autowerke mid-pipe before going on to add a CSF heat exchanger and a pair of SSR intakes with mesh filters. He’s also added SSR charge pipes custom powder coated gold for a flash of under-bonnet flair, and the engine bay experience is further enhanced by the gold intake pipes and engine cover with contrasting Daytona oil cap. “The overall engine modding phase took about 6-8 weeks,” says Sean, “and the exhaust setup took me a few months as well. The S55 is notoriously raspy-sounding; I listened to nearly every option before I decided on the combo of the AA mid-pipe and Remus axle-back exhaust with 102mm pipes, which takes care of that issue,” he says with a smile. Having watched the video clips of this setup we have to say it’s one of the meanest-sounding exhaust combos we’ve heard for the S55 and it’s easy to see (and hear) why Sean is so happy.
At this point, Sean had himself a tuned F80 M3 in a dazzling colour that was making over 500whp and sitting pretty on a set of stunning BBS 20s. That would have been plenty for a lot of people, but he was just getting into his stride and with performance sorted he now turned his attention back to the exterior to get the styling exactly to his liking. “I wanted to do things a bit differently for the styling and choose carbon bits that a lot of F80 owners were not using,” he explains. “The carbon aero is a mix of M Performance, PSM Dynamic, RW Carbon, AutoTecknic, and Sterckenn,” and all these different elements come together beautifully to deliver some serious visual drama. Up front, you’ll find carbon grilles, an M Performance carbon lip and upper splitters plus Sterckenn carbon front bumper fangs while the flanks are enhanced by a pair of RW Carbon side blades. The rear, meanwhile, features a PSM Dynamic carbon spoiler, AutoTecknic bumper splitters and an RW Carbon diffuser while even the Remus exhaust tips are finished in carbon. “Carbon fibre is a real addiction,” laughs Sean but all those carbon elements look so good and they work together perfectly. They enhance the styling and make this M3 look more aggressive and intimidating without going over the top, and all that carbon looks simply fantastic against the Daytona bodywork.
The final destination in Sean’s modding journey was the interior and, as with every other aspect of the car, he’s really gone the extra mile to ensure that his M3’s cabin looks and feels special and the attention to detail in here is second to none. “I wanted to make the interior as unique as the exterior,” he grins. “I went for custom-stitched Alcantara pieces, purple seat belts and custom OEM mats as well, all from iND. Ryan and team there are amazing people and they provide products not many other vendors offer,” he says but we’re just getting started. There’s that simply awesome custom flat-bottom steering wheel, with carbon top and bottom sections and centre trim, Alcantara grips with purple stitching and even an Alcantara airbag cover. There’s also an M Performance gear knob, carbon trim and carbon seatbacks, Pedal Haus pedals and the finishing touch is the enhanced audio setup, with a JL Audio amp and 12” sub. It’s an incredibly comprehensive selection of interior mods, the individual touches really set Sean’s cabin apart and it’s a fitting finishing touch to such an impressive build.
When you’re truly dedicated to something then you fully commit yourself to it and that’s what Sean has done with his tuned F80 M3. Very few people would have been willing to spend a whole year searching for their ideal car; they would have caved long before that and ended up compromising with a car that didn’t tick every box but Sean was strong, refused to give up and his perseverance and determination paid off in a big way. Even before the mods this was a special car but now it’s something else though even with the M3 as it is now, Sean’s not finished just yet. “I’ve been modding the car two years and counting – the only thing left to do is upgraded turbos. I’ve been eyeing the Kratos turbos for a while now,” he laughs, “they give really impressive power even on pump gas,” and a pair of those combined with a custom E85 tune would generate some truly epic numbers but Sean’s more than happy for the time being. “I’m definitely enjoying her the way she is now,” he smiles. After spending a year searching for his dream car and two years modding it, Sean’s got all the time in the world to enjoy driving it and living his life in full colour.
Tech Spec: Tuned F80 M3
Engine & Transmission:
3.0-litre twin-turbo straight-six S55B30, gold custom powder coated SSR intakes and charge pipes, CSF heat exchanger, iND colour-matched engine cover, Daytona violet oil cap, Pro Tuning Freaks bootmod3 Stage 2, NGK plugs gapped to .020, VRSF downpipes, Active Autowerke equal-length mid-pipe, Remus exhaust with 102mm carbon fibre tips. Six-speed manual gearbox
Power & Torque:
528whp and 556lb ft wtq on 93 octane file
9.5×20” ET23 (front) and 11×20” ET40 (rear) BBS LM-R wheels with Diamond Black centres and custom gold hardware, 265/30 (front) and 295/30 (rear) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, MRG titanium stud kit, EMD Auto lowering springs, OEM calipers colour-matched Daytona violet
M Performance carbon fibre front lip and upper splitters, Sterckenn carbon fibre front bumper fangs, RW Carbon side blades and rear diffuser, PSM Dynamic rear spoiler, AutoTecknic carbon fibre rear bumper splitters
iND custom-stitched Alcantara pieces with colour-matched stitching throughout, M Performance gear knob, custom carbon fibre flat-bottom steering wheel with Alcantara airbag cover and iND colour-matched trim and stitching, iND purple seat belts, AutoTecknic carbon fibre seatbacks, iND custom OEM mats with purple piping, Pedal Haus pedals, JL Audio 500×1 amp, 12” JL Audio 12W6