An old rivalry reignited. Euro versus Jap. Millsy versus Dan. It's going to be close!
I thought challenging Dan to a build-off was a good idea. He’s a confident chap, which is kind of surprising considering he still lives with his mum, hasn’t been laid in about six years and had his ass handed to him last time we battled it out. But I figured his bleatings about his K24 Civic Type R’s performance were just the over-confident mumblings of an old man getting a bit carried away by finally having more than 200bhp at his disposal. Sure, he reckons he owned a powerful green R32 GT-R a few years back… but did anyone actually see him in it?
Yet the challenge is set and I’ve since had a bit of an internet-search-based-reality-check. Those Type Rs are freaking tuneable! I mean, this shouldn’t be news to me as we featured enough of them back in the day… I even remember being scared half to death in a supercharged one (although I’d say 90% of that was the driver!).
And there’s no shortage of DIY heroes making turbo kits for them, strapping on superchargers or bolting on all kinds of breathe-easy mods, meaning more power for not a lot of cash is all part of Type R tuning. And Dan’s cosying up with those guys like a paedo in a queue at Disneyland.
The M3 though? More power means kidney-selling time. Supercharging is a £4.5k plus job. An LS or V10 swap you’re probably looking at over double. Even a CSL airbox is around £1.5k. It looks like I’ll have to dig out every trick in the book to make the M3 faster without lifting the bonnet.
Fortunately it’s a light aluminium bonnet, about 10kg lighter than a non-M E46 in fact. Yet it doesn’t stop the M3 being a bit lardy, mainly thanks to the beautiful German build quality that stops the interior sounding like you’re stuck inside a wasp-filled baked bean can (sound familiar Dan?).
When it comes to power-to-weight ratios the M3 does trump the Type R though. With about 212bhp per tonne compared to a standard Type R’s 161bhp per tonne (or thereabouts) the M3 is way ahead. But with Dan claiming about 260/270bhp the gap narrows quite a bit. If I can shave about 50kg of weight I could be up to around 220bhp per tonne at least. Although I’ll still be trying to stop more weight.
So, what’s the plan?
· Reduce weight – seats will be a key element in my target of at least a 50kg weight reduction
· Improve stopping – big brake kit or just uprating what’s there?
· Styling – a few choice and slightly retro mods coupled to a unique respray
· Driver – two elements in the competition are a drive-off. Dan’s pretty handy/reckless behind a wheel so I need to fine-tune my skills to get any extra advantage
But the first step is some necessary fettling; the infamous rear subframe. The car is booked into ETA Motorsport in Kent for new plates to be welded in and probably some new bushes, plus fitting the coilovers that are currently annoying the missus in the sitting room. That’s taking a big chunk of my maxing budget, but you can’t build a house without strong foundations.
Game on then! Dan’s going on a full-scale attack to not loose again and he’s played a bit of a blinder as he’s put me in a kind of loose/loose situation. On the one hand, most people expect the Type R to be the underdog and the Honda fanboys are lapping up the challenge, so if he beats me then it’s going to be pure humiliation. But if I let my competitive streak get the better of me there’s every danger I’ll end up modifying the M3 into something I don’t like as much, just to win. Plus the M3 purists will hate me. Actually, they’ll probably hate me anyway when they see the spoiler I’m planning on fitting!
My approach is therefore to, ironically, adopt some Far Eastern philosophy and go full zen. Build a car I want and if I beat him, I beat him. If I don’t then at least I’ll still have a car I want to drive while he’ll be left with a fast car that tries to put him in a ditch at every opportunity.
Now I've just got to decide what colour to go for when it comes to respray time!