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Staff Cars: Millsy's M3 - Braking the Rules

This week the M3’s modifying journey begins in earnest. I just hope it’s not all going to be as weird as what happened today.


Meaty brakes are a must (pic: European Auto Source)

For those of you following our YouTube channel you may have seen me giving my thoughts on the E46 M3 in standard form and how the brakes and seats feel as unequipped for the job to me as Dan does to a Mr. Modest Competition.


I have seats in mind, it’s just whether I can afford them, but the brake situation was perplexing. AP Racing seems to be the default ‘best brake’ option for the M3 according to owners, while K-Sports get plenty of good reviews albeit with a ‘for the money’ caveat virtually every time. Yellow Speed looked a budget possibility too, but very few reviews from the Beemer crowd on those. And then there’s a host of Brembo and Porsche hybrid set-ups that quite frankly baffle me.

So many choices!!!!


In fact, it was stressing me out a bit, especially as I was getting close to the idea of maxing the credit card for APs. But then I remembered eBay. Never forget eBay! I’d be happy if I bought a car with a used set of brakes on, so why not see if anyone was selling a big brake kit for an E46 M3 that would be sure to fit and hopefully save me a few quid.


And bingo! A chap in Bradford had a set of Alcon brakes off an M3 with 365mm discs and Pagid RS209 pads for sale and the bidding was at £800. Alcons, yummy. I’ve driven cars in the past with Alcons and was always pretty impressed… and before you know it I’m on the phone asking him how much he wanted. A grand! That’s like well under half price. Deal.


Then it all got a bit weird. It was pick-up only, but being a car trader he apparently had a mate heading down south the following Tuesday who he could send the brakes with. He’d just want paying now.


I’m pretty cautious normally, but my nose had sniffed out a deal and my fingers couldn’t stop themselves from transferring £1,000 to a bloke I’d never met, who could have lived anywhere, for brakes that I had no real idea about the condition of. What could possibly go wrong?


I reassured myself over the next few days that he was a Yorkshireman and Yorkshiremen are good honest folk. In fact, every shoot in that neck of the woods back in the Max Power days always seemed to be full of smiles and cups of tea with top blokes. Grand.

Yorkshiremen: good, honest folk right?

On the day I was due to meet the seller’s delivery mate around 30mins from MAXERS HQ I was still trying to reassure myself. But when his mate text to say sat nav was saying he’d be at our M25 rendezvous point at 11am as planned my heart soared. This isn’t a scam!


Then about an hour later I get a call from the same guy saying he’d broken down (in his recovery truck) on the A1. Oh shit! Here we go! Bye bye £1,000. Millsy, you idiot!


At that point I forgot any thoughts of empathy for his predicament (if he really was broken down) and suggested I could drive and meet him there. Strangely he didn’t seem to have a problem with this.


So I ditched the day job, hopped in the Golf and set off on the one and a half hour trek to see if my pants weren’t just being pulled down but whether I was getting properly rogered too.


It’s not a proud thing to admit, but as I drove up the A1 I was praying to see a broken down recovery truck on the other side of the road. He was almost at junction 14 apparently, which is great to know when after about junction nine none of the junctions are numbered. So for about 30 miles I’m driving up the A1 trying to count junctions and watching out for recovery trucks. By my reckoning I was at about junction 17 without seeing a thing. Better get that lube ready.

This'll do (borrowed from Dan)

And then I saw it, like a vision of beauty; a white Citroen recovery truck on the southbound hard shoulder of the A1(M).


A swift turnaround at the next junction and I was soon parked up in front of him, with a girl walking towards me carrying brake parts to my waiting boot. Result. Her dad, Reggie, the guy I’d been speaking to on the phone, followed with the discs. And they all looked in decent nick. Like I'm famous for saying, you can always trust a Yorkshireman. I can also keep the lid firmly on the lube for now (this modifying journey is long though, so I'll keep it in the glovebox!).

Not all angels have wings. Some have high vis vests and hold brake discs!

With the wave of relief finally subsiding, it turns out Reggie’s Citroen had just died on him and when he tried to restart it there was nothing. He feared engine seizure, but his mechanic mate suggested to just wait a while and try again. Apparently it sounded like it want to start after that, but didn’t.


We tried jump starting it off the Golf, without luck. I did the honourable thing any man should do in this situation and took a look under the bonnet... without actually having a clue what I was looking for. Then I gave them a couple of cold drinks, wished them luck with the recovery truck that was coming for them and hightailed it back home, hoping I could send some emails in my day job and pretend like I’d never left the desk.

Turns out they only waited another 3.5 hours to be recovered

I’ve not given them a close inspection yet, but the discs look like they've plenty of life left in them so that’s promising. Just need some braided lines and someone more competent with the spanners than me to fit them.

Literally have no idea what I'm looking at...

Speaking of which, the car’s off to ETA Motorsport in Kent tomorrow for the dreaded rear subframe repair and to fit the HSD Monopro coilovers too (am interested to see what these are like having found some duff reviews since buying them!). Then it’s straight from there to Kode Performance for the respray. So fun times ahead in the M3’s battle against Dan, the self-styled underdog, and his K24 Civic Type R. At least I may be able to stop as quickly as his Japanese biscuit tin now.


Oh, and I saw this on the way home. A genuine Ranger Raptor. Talk about road presence!

It's black, it's wide... Dan would love it

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