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Top E90/E92 M3 Mods

BimmerWorld Top E9X M3 Mods

Top E90/E92 M3 Mods


The S65-powered E90/E92 M3 was the last of the naturally aspirated M3s we'll ever see, but we can all be happy that BMW decided to go out on a high note before moving to turbocharged engines. Not just a "high note" but a glorious 8,400-RPM symphony of 8 cylinders.

At around 3,700 lbs, the E90/E92 M3 is no lightweight, but the chassis, suspension, and engine all combine to make it a very potent and highly desirable package. With a chassis this good it's not all about big power numbers. Of course, that doesn't mean we can't make it even better… The S65 engine had all of the contemporary technology and made a lot of power from it's small 4.0 liter displacement. 103.5hp per liter is astounding even if it's the norm for BMW M engines. A Mustang GT's 5.0-liter V8 would make 517.5hp if it had similar output. As great as the E90/E92 M3 is without any modifications, there's a surprising bit of power waiting to be unleashed.

Around town and on the highway, the weight of the E9X M3 actually makes it a very competent GT cruiser, yet it can still be flung about on a race track pretty well for a car with so much heft. While previous-generation M3s were noticeably lighter, the E9X M3 can hold it's own through a tight track - when dialed in properly.

For many BMW fanatics, the 2008-2013 M3 is the perfect blend of looks, power, technology, comfort, and overall performance capabilities. We've got plenty of experience in making the E9X M3 go faster, look better, handle more precisely, and sound better than just about anything else on the road. Below are the top-5 areas of modification, in no particular order, our friends and customers have utilized to make their favorite BMW M3 even better.


Wheels & Wheel Spacers

A new set of wheels gives you the quickest change of looks for your E90/E92 M3, but wheel choice can go well beyond simple aesthetics. The BMW factory wheels are beautiful but the best way to personalize your car and make it stand out is with a new set of wheels. A wheel upgrade is one of the better modifications to make on any car as the aesthetic improvement is just one of the many benefits. OEM wheels suffer from two disadvantages: high weight and small size. Ranging from 25 lbs to 30 lbs, the OEM 18" and 19" non-ZCP wheels aren't exactly light. All E9X M3s were equipped by BMW with staggered wheel sizes - a surprisingly narrow 8" front wheel mated with a 9" or 9.5" rear sets the car up to understeer heavily. This is not all bad from a safety standpoint but less than ideal when you want to push your M3 hard and expect faster lap times.

BimmerWorld is the only US BMW tuner with a professional racing team and our own line of ultra high performance wheels. Our TA5R flow form and TA16 forged wheels tick all of the boxes for our wheel upgrades: lighter weight, exceptional strength, cutting edge design, and great looks. Both wheel styles are packed with features that make them winners on the race track and are also highly desirable for street use.





Multiple other wheel styles are also available. The Titan7 wheels are fully forged with modern styling. The APEX ARC-8 has a classic motorsport-inspired design and other APEX wheels are also a beautiful match to the E9X platform. Forgeline fully forged multi-piece wheels have exceptional strength and many different styles that will virtually guarantee your exclusivity.







Getting the most out of staggered factory wheels
BimmerWorld Wheel Spacers

There are many OEM wheels that look fantastic on the E90/E92 M3 and some people prefer to keep the OEM appearance. For these customers we still recommend a wheel spacer upgrade to enhance the stance. Spacers will fill out the fenders better and improve handling slightly by widening the wheel track. Our preferred setup on stock wheels is 15mm BimmerWorld Wheel Spacers with the front and 12mm spacers on the rear. Note that you'll need to get either extended-length wheel bolts or wheel studs (see below).

Additional wheel recommendation: If you plan to remove and reinstall wheels often, one of our wheel stud conversions will make changing wheels much easier and quicker, or if you just want the strongest way possible to secure your wheels safely, we highly recommend changing from factory lug bolts to wheel studs.


Suspension

Even on ///M cars BMW engineers the suspension to be a compromise of comfort and performance. While the suspension is tuned for more performance than a 328i or 335i there is still a lot of comfort built in to appeal to as big a market as possible. This leaves plenty of room for improvement even without sacrificing ride comfort a great deal - from bushing upgrades, to camber plates, to coil springs, to full coil over conversions there is a E9X M3 suspension upgrade to fit your needs.

Lowering Springs and Coil Overs
There are many E9X M3 owners who simply want a better stance and lowered look. Spring manufacturers produce new coil springs with a shorter spring to achieve the lower height and more aggressive stance. These are known as static springs and they are engineered to work with your factory shock absorbers. For a little more upfront cost you can pick up a better option - height adjustable springs such as the HAS kit from KW. KW Height Adjustable Springs (H.A.S.) gives you the benefits of a coil over (adjustable ride height) and improved handling but retains your stock M3 shocks, even the factory Electronic Damper Control (EDC).

Static springs and factory shocks are adequate for street use. But if you want something more capable a coil over kit with uprated springs and dampers will be on your wish list. There are several classifications of coil overs with varying levels of features. Most people don't need 4-way adjustable dampers. Coil over selection is based first on intended use, future use, and budget. And we have a recommended product for every type of customer. We explore street suspension tuning in greater depth in a different article which you can find here: Street Suspension Recommendations for BMWs.

Most often we recommend a KW product for street use. The V3 (Variant 3) features 2-way adjustable shocks with progressive rate springs to provide you with a solid tuning base for street or occasional track use. The KW kit provides a smooth and balanced ride and handling setup and we have very few complaints from our customers. KW products are made in Germany and often run at the Nurburgring for extended development.

KW Variant street coil overs


A step up from a street suspension is the Motion Control dampers with a custom spring set. MCS dampers are normally used on heavily tracked or full race cars but the shock valving is very versatile. We have often supplied customers with premium MCS dampers with a street-able spring package and customers are pleasantly surprised by how well-mannered it is on the street. Just because it has lofty capabilities does not mean it's a compromise for more widespread use. MCS packages are typically built-to-order and custom tailored to your exact situation so call or email us for consultation and pricing. Expect to pay more but it is a premium package that stands out above the rest.

MCS 2-way Non-Remote track/street coil overs

Bushings and Control Arms
One of the ways BMW achieves a friendly balance between comfort and performance is with the suspension bushings. While most people think the M3 has some high tech bushing design or material they would be remiss. The E9X M3 uses old fashioned rubber for the control arm bushings and mounts, just like any other 3-series. The M3 rubber mounts are a stiffer grade than non-M cars but it is rubber nonetheless and just as susceptible to wear and abuse. For higher performance we often seek a bushing with less deflection and compressability.

Powerflex produces bushings using various grades of polyurethane. By reverse engineering the suspension as a whole, their engineers come up with a preferred bushing durometer (stiffness) for each model. And then offer a street-friendly and track-focused product. Poly bushings should be used with other poly bushings so plan on replacing as much of the suspension as you can to gain the maximum effect.

One step beyond the poly bushings is a sealed and isolated monoball bearing. In this design is a solid spherical bearing that can rotate in any direction. The bearing is encased in plastic or rubber to isolate the car from vibration or noise and then the joints are sealed to keep debris out. We use these monoball bearings in a number of applications with fantastic results. We haven't had an application where this monoball design wasn't a winner. We mount the bearing in an aluminum housing, which gives the appearance of a racing part but we use these on street cars without complaints.

If the original M3 suspension is too soft or unresponsive for your tastes, try a poly or monoball bushing and you'll find that missing motorsport DNA.
For truly dedicated race cars we offer tubular control arm upgrades with solid Heim joints and maximum adjustability. These are lighter than stock arms and feature adjustable ends for setting camber and toe alignments. Because of the solid, no-play joints they will not be good for street use. But on smoother race track surfaces there is nothing better for maintaining your alignment and controlling suspension movement.

E9X M3 race suspension bushings and rear control arms


Exhaust

We make no secret about the fact that the E9X M3's S65 V8 engine is one of our favorites, but we also make no secret that it's just too darn quiet from the factory. Any BMW can be made to sound better with a quality exhaust, but the E90/E92 M3 becomes an entirely different car based on the exhaust soundtrack alone. Add to that the fact that you can reduce your M3's weight and add a bit of power in the process, and changing out the exhaust becomes a no-brainer. To avoid added expense, decide upfront if you're changing the exhaust for sound or for power.

Sound Upgrade
Looking to turn the volume up a few notches? All it takes is a new rear muffler to let the V8 howl a bit more. There are enough M3 muffler upgrades on the market to acquire just the right exhaust note you're seeking. Our favorites for a muffler-only upgrade are the Magnaflow Touring and the Eisenmann Sport systems. Both are civilized for normal street use but produce deep but muted rumbles. Just a little more V8 burble to let you know its there. Magnaflow is an American company and their sound tuning leans more to a traditional muscle car rumble. Eisenmann is a German company and their sound is more Euro exotic. For even greater sound there are Race versions of each.

E9X M3 Eisenmann mufflers

Power & Sound (Track-Use Only)
The rear muffler dictates the exhaust note but there is a lot more to the exhaust system. Through our own racing efforts we have identified two areas of the exhaust where big power can be gained: the catalytic converters and the headers.

Test Pipes/Track Pipes - the stock M3 exhaust has 4 catalytic converters, a primary pair and secondary pair. Replacing the primaries with a set of straight pipes (aka Test Pipes) will free up a major obstruction in the exhaust and unleash quite a lot of horsepower and torque. Removing the cats also improves reliability for track use. Test Pipes will leave the secondary cats in place. Extended Test Pipes will delete all four, further improving performance and reducing weight.

BimmerWorld E9X M3 Tri-Y Headers
 
Headers and Race Pipes - Through very extensive development and testing we have designed a set of headers that makes power on the S65. These are true equal-length stainless steel with a stepped design that's guaranteed to add maximum horsepower and torque. And they reshape the exhaust tone into one of the most exotic exhaust sounds you'll ever hear on a BMW. Combined with our center race pipes (with or without race cats) and our Axle-Back Race Exhaust, you get a long, flat torque curve with new power everywhere in the rev range (peak gains of 41Hp and 32ft-lb over stock), plus an exhaust sound that will have you constantly dropping gears just to run through the revs at every chance you can find.

E9X M3 Race Headers and Midpipe

Our Epic Motorsport software tuning is strongly recommended to get the very most of this exhaust system. It's what we used when designing and testing the headers and cannot be beat by anyone else's tune.



Engine, Intake, & Software

You won't find a lot of engine upgrades for the S65. It's such a high-output engine that you can make adjustments to obvious areas (software, exhaust) but to get any big numbers requires forced induction or larger displacement. Bolt-on upgrades are limited to intake, pulley, and software that combine to make a significant boost in power.

Intake
BMW refers to their intake systems as mufflers. As a luxury car maker suppressing noise is a top priority, even glorious intake noise. BMW intake systems are designed to feed sufficient amounts of air for a naturally-aspirated small displacement engine. There's not a lot of room left over for improvement. But what you can do is open up the intake to let more soundtrack through and gain a little power at the same time.

We like the Macht Schnell Stage 2 Intake Kit because we have seen it make power on our dyno and excellent fit and finish. The Macht Schnell intake consists of a larger filter, intake elbow, and air ducts for the kidney grilles. The larger surface area of the filter combined with the smooth finish of the intake tube increases air volume by 18%. That means better breathing which equates to more power - as much as 12hp - as well as a louder and more sporty engine sound.

Pulleys
Belt-driven engine accessories such as the water pump, alternator, and power steering pump all take effort (torque) to spin. But they're all working harder than they need to. Underdrive pulleys reduce the amount of work these accessories require and that returns "lost" torque back to the engine, making the car faster. It's been a hot rodding trick for decades. The Rogue Engineering Power Pulley Kit replaces the crankshaft and power steering pulley to reduce parasitic drag throughout the system without side effects. The pulley sizes have been carefully chosen and tested to free up power (8hp/8ft-lbs) without affecting cooling, charging, or steering performance. They're made from T-6061 aluminum instead of the original plastic that can be prone to failure. A new longer belt is included.

Software
A new software tune is one of the best mods you can make on any BMW (as long as its from a reliable source). Every facet of engine performance is run through the engine computer, leaving so many opportunities for changes and improvements. On the S65 engine there are over 40 parameters to change that add up to real world gains. Why did we leave it as the last suggestion? Because software tuning should be done once all of your other hardware upgrades are completed. Our in-house tunes are done by Epic Motorsports, an independent engine builder and tuner who specializes in BMW M3 models. We offer software upgrades as a street version with all catalytic and emissions controls untouched, and as a race tune for cars that will no longer be used on public roads. The gains are roughly the same (around 20hp) but specific changes are made for each. It's not all about dyno numbers, however. Additional tuning is done to make the car faster at all RPM, throttle, and load requests. It's a huge refinement of the stock software and a night and day difference in how the car behaves and delivers power.


Brakes

People complain about the limits of BMW braking systems when they push their cars in a real performance environment, and that includes the E9X M3. The fact is the M3 is a heavy car, regardless of its performance lineage. The stock brakes on the E9X M3 aren't actually bad, but they can easily be made better by changing out a few simple but key components.

Stock brake pads are designed to be quiet and stop well under normal driving conditions, and they do that job well enough. It's when you push the braking system with repeated stops from high speeds that they start to exhibit their shortcomings. Even with typical high-performance use, it's easy to get the factory brakes to fade. Take your M3 on track for a few laps, and that's when you learn very quickly what improvements need to be made.

Brake Pads
PFC Z-Rated brake pads

Even if you don't drive your E9X M3 on track, brake pads with a higher performance threshold can change your driving experience. Performance Friction Z-Rated brake pads do everything better. They offer great initial bite, easy to modulate, and excel during high-performance use. Z-Rated pads can even handle light track use considerably better than stock, and they're perfect for autocross or any typical performance driving situations. Plus. their dust output is considerably less than factory pads and even the dust color doesn't stand out as much.

For track use there is no shortage of higher-friction pad compounds to choose from and we are constantly evaluating and testing new ones. There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a pad compound and it becomes a custom-tailored recommendation. It would take up more space than we want to dedicate here so we encourage you to contact us to discuss your track pad options.

Brake Fluid
Red Line RB600 racing brake fluid

Brake fluid is best when you first open the bottle and pour it in. For every day after that it's absorbing moisture and lowering the boiling point. Replacing the fluid is recommended every two years but must be done more often if the car is driven hard or used on track (you're bleeding brakes with new pads anyway). Red Line RL-600 Racing Brake Fluid has become the go-to choice for most fans of high-performance driving. With wet and dry boiling points considerably higher than stock brake fluid, plus the ability to maintain all of its beneficial characteristics even at extreme temperatures, RL-600 is ideal for M3s that see anything from high-performance street driving to dedicated track use.

Also plan on replacing your brake lines as part of a preventative plan or track upgrade. Rubber brake lines will swell over time which reduces the inner tube diameter and restrict flow. We have Teflon and stainless braided lines that are last longer, have a tougher outer layer, and have a higher pressure rating than original rubber lines. These are great upgrades for both street and track and address a safety concern that often goes unchecked.

Big Brake Kits
BimmerWorld Performance Friction PFC Big Brake Kit

As cars have gotten heavier and faster the brakes have gotten larger. Stock E9X M3 rotors are 360mm in the front which is a decent size and sufficient for the majority of amateur track day enthusiasts. Big Brake Kits are not all about size even though it's a big selling point. Race cars get different brakes for the added thermal capacity as well as the reduced weight of these specialized brake kits. If you can trim 5lb, 10lb, 15lbs from each corner that will add up to a significant weight reduction in unsprung weight. Just like with lighter wheels there is a exponential improvement in performance. The other improvement is in pedal feel and confidence. The stock caliper flexes a lot under hard use and you can feel the brakes squirm under high pressure. Fixed multi-piston calipers nearly eliminate that sensation and give you a solid support to stand on the pedal. Big Brakes are not just about the size but a complete overhaul to match or exceed the demands of track use.


Engine Maintenance

We'll get the 4,000lb elephant out in the open straight away: there is an Achilles heel to the S65 (and others) and it's in the form of rod bearings. The fact of the matter is that these are a normal wear item that happen to wear sooner than what everyone is accustomed to. Plan on replacing yours before 80,000 miles and have regular oil analysis done to spot signs of trouble.

Other than bearings, throttle actuators, and fuel sensors the S65 seems to be a tough and robust engine. There's always going to be core components that need regular maintenance just like any other engine - cooling system, plugs and coils, gaskets, sensors, etc. But for such a high-output design with true motorsport lineage this is a low maintenance engine that rewards regular attention and maintenance. As an ///M car with a bespoke engine it may be pricey to maintain correctly. Watch out for cars that have not been cared for or show signs of abuse or neglect. These cars are now out of factory warranty coverage and the tight space in the engine bay means a lot of preventative work gets put off or ignored. But these are special and exclusive cars and treating them care and respect will reward you with better performance and also higher resale values.





Our 'Oberste Spec' Street E92 M3

We've built a large number of E9X M3s over the years for both street and track. But as production neared its end BimmerWorld owner James Clay ordered one of the very last E92s to build his own oberste (ultimate) M3. You can read more about this car in this Bimmer Magazine (click here) feature.

Car:
2013 E92 M3 coupe (June 2013 delivery)
San Marino Blue (BMW Individual)
Black interior with blue contrasting stitching
6-speed manual

Mods:
Harrop TVS supercharger
Red Line synthetic oil
Epic Motorsports software tune
JB Racing flywheel
BimmerWorld headers and race exhaust
Diffsonline limited-slip differential
CSF radiator and oil coolers
PFC aluminum calipers, 2-piece V3 rotors
MCS coil overs, Hyperco springs, Ground Control camber plates
Forgeline GA3 20" wheels











Our Favorite E9X M3 Upgrades:


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BimmerWorld TE:AL TA16 Forged Race Wheel - 18"

T6061 forged aluminum wheel - light, strong, durable, and perfect for track or race use

Black Friday Deal! FREE SHIPPING, thru 12/2!

Price: $499.99 – $529.99

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BimmerWorld BMW Wheel Spacers (Set/Pair)

Lightweight, hubcentric, CNC machined spacers for most BMWs

Price: $89.99

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M12x1.5 Extended Length Wheel Bolts for Wheel Spacers

Black or silver M12x1.5 extended wheel bolts in different lengths

Price: $2.25

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M12x1.5 75mm BimmerWorld Wheel Stud/Black Nut Package

75mm Bullet Nose stud and nut package - a great companion to street wheels!

Price: $124.99

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H&R Sport Springs - E9X M3

The best-selling performance street springs!

Price: $312.99

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KW HAS Adjustable Spring Set - E82 1M, E90 M3, E92 M3

Adjustable ride height like a coil over without losing factory EDC

Price: $748.99

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KW Coil Over Kit, Variant 3 (V3) - E90/E92 M3 with EDC

Double-adjustable dampers plus height adjustment for high-performance street or track driving. Sedan and Coupe models only. Does NOT include EDC-delete kit.

Price: $2,549.00

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KW Coil Over Kit, Variant 3 (V3) - E90/E92 M3 without EDC

Double-adjustable dampers plus height adjustment for high-performance street or track driving. Sedan and Coupe models only.

Price: $2,549.00

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MCS 1-Way Non-Remote Damper Set - E9X 325i/328I/330i/335i/M3

Ultra-premium single-adjustable monotube damper with street-perfect manners and race-winning performance

Price: $2,749.99

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MCS 2-Way Non-Remote Damper Set - E9X 325i/328I/330i/335i/M3

Ultra-premium double-adjustable monotube dampers with street-perfect manners and race winning performance.

Price: $3,549.99

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MCS Multi-Way Remote-Reservoir Damper Set - E82, E9X incl M3

Race-winning damper sets for the ultimate in extreme street to professional-level race performance

Price: $5,049.99 – $9,649.99

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Front Brake Pads, PFC Street - E9X 328i 08-13, E9X 335i/M3/1M, E60, E63, Z4 35is

High-performance street pads for enthusiast drivers

Price: $104.99

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Red Line RL-600 Super DOT4 Racing Brake Fluid

High performance Normal Viscosity fluid for street or track use. 604°F wet boiling point.

Price: $16.95

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PFC Z54 Front 372MM Big Brake Kit - E9X M3, E82 1M

The absolute best-performing brake system on the market, period! Save hundreds today when you buy a Black Caliper kit! 

Price:  Free!

4069.99
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Radiator, CSF Triple-Pass Aluminum - E9X M3

Three-pass aluminum performance radiator for superior cooling in all high-demand conditions

Black Friday Deal! Price Includes Extra 10% OFF, thru 12/6!

Price: $539.99

599.99
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CSF Direct-Fit Oil Cooler Upgrade - E90 E92 E93 M3 (2008-2013)

Highly-efficient performance bar/plate oil cooler with direct-fit installation

Black Friday Deal! Price Includes Extra 10% OFF, thru 12/6!

Price: $539.99

599.99
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CSF E9X M3 Transmission Cooler

Increased cooling capacity for DCT and manual transmissions - a must-have for track use

Black Friday Deal! Price Includes Extra 10% OFF, thru 12/6!

Price: $539.99

599.99
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Harrop E9X M3 TVS Supercharger

Positive displacement Eaton TVS 1740-based supercharger kit produces massive bottom end and big overall power

Price: $9,989.99

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BimmerWorld Racing Longtube X-Pipe with Cats - E9X M3

Oversized, race-spec X-pipe and race cats matching our Longtube Tri-Y headers

Price: $1,799.99

1999.99
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BimmerWorld E9X M3 Race Exhaust by MagnaFlow

Lightweight axle-back stainless steel exhaust system

Price: $999.99

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BimmerWorld E9X M3 Longtube Tri-Y Header

True equal-length, stepped design for maximum power and torque gains

Black Friday Deal! $300 OFF for a limited time!

Price: $2,199.99

2,499.99
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Macht Schnell BMW E9X M3 Stage 2 Intake Charge Kit

Fantastic power gains and sound from this cold air intake at a great price

Price: $399.99

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Rogue Engineering Power Pulley Kit - E90/92 M3 05/2008 thru 2013

Release hidden power by safely reducing parasitic drag from your accessory pulleys

Price: $294.99

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Epic Stage 2 ECU Race Tune - BMW E9X M3

Proven to provide the most power from your S65 engine - +23hp / +27ft-lbs

Price: $999.99

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MCS 2-Way Non-Remote Damper Set - E9X 325i/328I/330i/335i/M3 (Coil Over Rear)

Ultra-premium double-adjustable monotube dampers with street-perfect manners and race winning performance. Rear coil over design.

Price: $3,699.99

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Epic Stage 1 Performance Software - E9X M3

Proven to provide the most power from your S65 engine

Price: $799.00

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WPC Treated Rod Bearing & ARP Bolt Package - E90/E92/E93 M3

Race-ready treated S65 bearings and hardware for peak performance and high-revving durability

Price: $998.99

1063.98
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