Making up for the missing M Car

Also from Issue 104

  • Mano Agulian's 2002 Turbo Replica
  • First Drive in the 2012 F10 M5 sedan
  • First drive in the 1 Series-based ActiveE
  • AC Schnitzer MINI Eagle prototype
  • 535i Gran Turismo vs. Honda Accord Crosstour
  • Market Update: E39 5 Series
  • Cooling system preventive maintenance
  • Tuned 7 Series: Hartge H7S
  • Saratoga Automobile Museum BMW gathering
  • BMW racing glory and James Clay interview
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Making up for the Missing M Car 1
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The rear was a little easier, but even there the wheels required around 2.6 degrees of negative camber for fitment.

After addressing the ride height and wheel issues, 3D worked to correct what the company felt (and we agree) was too-soft handling for enthusiast drivers. 3D chose KW’s Variant 3 coilover suspension, which provides adjustable rebound and compression damping along with stiffer (and ride-height adjustable) springs that reduce body roll, brake dive and chassis squat under hard acceleration. Smolov said that 3D likes the damping characteristics of the KW system but also chose the dampers for reliability, as they fit well, resist corrosion and have a lifetime warranty.

Beyond the lowered ride height and BBS wheels, 3D’s body components further distinguish this Z4’s appearance. We love carbon fiber touches on a performance car, and 3D’s front lip spoiler, side skirts and rear diffuser combine nicely with BMW’s M Sport bodywork. The trunk spoiler—constructed of urethane and painted to match the body color—also blends in well. To complete the look, 3D also installed black kidney grilles from BMW Performance, and these complement the black carbon fiber touches nicely.

The fit and finish on all the body pieces is first-rate, and they look as if they came directly from the BMW factory. 3D didn’t supply any performance data as to whether its spoilers, skirts and diffuser reduce lift, but given their design we expect they do to at least some degree, especially the front spoiler.

As cool as this car looks at a glance, the details are what really make it distinctive. It’s rare to see hand-painted pinstriping on any newer car these days—vinyl has largely replaced paint in that regard—but the 3D Z4 wears beautifully done pinstriping that was labored over for hours by a real artist with a brush. It adds a uniquely human aspect to the car, along with a bit of a retro look. (It really is retro, as most of the really good pinstripers are getting older.)

The roof above the driver’s door bears the painted message, “Don’t Give Up, Tohoku.” Tohoku, Japan was especially hard-hit by the 2011 tsunami, and the words were the tag line for a fundraiser to help the town’s tsunami victims. The cockpit trim has also been painted to match the body color; this work was done in Palatine by IND, and it looks fantastic as an accent to the stock red leather seats and trim. Also added to the cockpit is a set of Stack gauges for turbo boost, water temperature and oil pressure.

More muscle for an already stout performer

To give the Z4 performance that would match its newly aggressive appearance, 3D Design worked with Eisenmann and ESS Tuning to give horsepower a meaningful boost. The Eisenmann exhaust runs from the downpipe back and produces what Eisenmann claims is a 35% increase in flow over the stock pipes, which results in a gain of around 12 hp. With its quad tips, the exhaust also makes this Z4 look even more like the E89 M Roadster that BMW never built, especially in combination with the 3D carbon fiber rear diffuser. It also sounds pretty incredible at just about any engine speed from idle to redline, though even some of the most enthusiastic drivers might find it too loud for a daily driver.

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