As the S54 six spins toward redline, the sound of the boost escaping from the blowoff valve punctuates every upshift. It’s intoxicating, and so is this E46 M3’s acceleration. It’s rocketing us down Monterey’s Reservation Road as quickly as anything we’ve ever driven, making us glad for the rapid-fire shifting of SMG—if this car had a manual, we might not be able to keep up.
“It’s kind of a silly car,” laughs its owner, Lawrence Henrard. To make sure we understand exactly how silly this turbocharged M3 really is, he’s encouraging us to press down ever harder on the throttle so that we miss none of its mind-boggling acceleration.
It would help, of course, if the road didn’t have so many darn curves. Normally, a series of fast corners would be catnip to the driver of an E46 M3; in Henrard’s car, they’re almost an impediment. We’ve got more than 600 horsepower at our command, and all we really want to do is see how fast those ponies will propel this M3 down the straights.
Corners aren’t the only thing limiting our speed. There’s also the matter of traction. Putting 600+ ponies to the rear wheels puts quite a strain on the rear tires, and the DSC light on the dashboard is flashing furiously as the electronics try to contain it.
“I was running Michelin Pilot Sport Cups on all four wheels, but it didn’t hook up,” Henrard explains. “I put some drag racing tires on the back, and it’s a lot better.”
If this is an improvement, those Michelins must have been seriously overwhelmed, because even these 275-section Nitto NT05s are having a tough time keeping up with the power being sent rearward from a fourth-gear, full-throttle application of the S54 six. Not that we’re complaining, of course. We’ll take a fun car over a perfect car any day, and Henrard’s M3 is very fun indeed, in a silly kind of way.