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Staff Cars: Millsy's M3 - Painted!

Fresh from Kode and looking pinker than ever!

If you're reading this it's probably because you've seen the pictures... and you have questions. Actually, you have one question; why pink? Well, let me explain.

The answer is kind of threefold. Firstly, when I started at Max Power at the end of 2000 my first project car on the magazine was an E30 BMW 325i. Now, like a lot of you, I grew up dreaming of modified cars and imagined turning up to certain places in that car... not necessarily to impress people but simply because it was like a target. A point in time to aim for. For me, I always imagined this E30 being kitted with the boxy M3 arches and painted pink (even thought hydraulics and Lambo-style doors might be in the equation!!) then rocking up to the BP garage at Boreham services just outside of Chelmsford. It was always a bit of a hot spot for modified cars back in the day. That never happened due to issues with the bodyshop meaning I gave up on the car (if you've seen pictures of it, you'll understand why!). But now... real M3, very pink. Check and check! Twenty years late, but target hit!

Rubystone E46 M3
Putting £3 of fuel in after clearing out the account for the paint

Secondly, the car needed painting anyway. Every panel aside from the roof had something wrong with it; there was a dent in the driver's side front arch and rust creeping through in a couple of places. And with the MAXERS Project Car Build-Off with Dan on my mind, the opportunity for a show-stopping colour change was too good to pass up on.

And thirdly... it will really p!ss some people off. I've always loved pink cars and blame my own experiences of growing up with Max Power magazine for that; AbFlug's RX-7, Project 2000 a boxy 205 GTI from France were just a few that really stuck in my mind. But not everyone likes pink. In fact, I fully expect some serious backlash even from my fellow M3 enthusiasts. And that's just amusing.

It always amazes me how passionately people can feel about what other people do to their cars if they step outside of the 'norm'. You'll ruin the resale value, they'll say. Fine, as I don't intend on selling it. You should have spent the money on track upgrades. Well, it's not a dedicated track car so what's the point? BMW colours are the only thing you should paint an M3 in? Honestly, I looked at BMW colours and even though I liked a few of them I'd have ended up with an M3 that looked like a whole bunch of other peoples. You can't do that to an M3! Fine, your opinion. Enjoy your boring life.

But the choice of which pink, or Porsche Rubystone Red to give it it's proper name, was not so simple. Kode have been brilliant throughout this whole process and I can't thank them enough. When I finally let main man Kwok know that Rubystone was the way forward he offered to spray up a few samples to show me exactly how it looked... and the paint supplier, Custom Paints, who were also super helpful, offered a slightly pinker version as well as a 'jazzed' version - that appeared to have a touch of gold metalflake in it - in case I wanted to push things even harder.

After they arrived at my house I spent the next twenty four hours taking the three samples everywhere; in bright sunshine, in shade, under street lights, dusk, dawn, you name it, I put the colours in that light to see how they looked at any given moment. I even slept with them next to the bed so I could see which looked best the moment I woke up! It was borderline obsessive.

The 'jazzed' one was awesomely bright in virtually every light, but it was 'always on' so I discounted it first. The other two had more range. The pinker one definitely looked to pop a bit more, but only a bit more than the standard Rubystone. In the end it came down to the fact that Rubystone was actually the most interesting... almost like a dark raspberry in the shade, but virtually as bright as the other two when hit with direct sun. I love the idea of looking at it or photographing it in various lights and seeing something a bit different every time.

So, with colour chosen Kode set to work, and I've been super impressed. Even the evening after I dropped it off I received the first update of the back end being stripped.

Almost every day I'd get another set of pictures with an update. The front wings were off, the rust sorted, the windows out. And Kwok was keen to get me to do it properly. For example, he pointed out that the scuttle panel was a little cracked and a plastic cover at the back of one of the headlights was also broken. He also sent pictures of the back of the grab handle on the boot and how at some point tape had been used to keep the mechanism secure. If it stayed like that then it was only a matter of time before it would break. Fortunately, Gareth at Maidstone BMW was very helpful (what, a helpful parts department!?) and managed to get brand new replacements to Kode within a few days for around £200. It was reassuring to know anything that needed doing was getting done.

Then the first shots of the car came through with the paint on! Wow! I literally had shivers up my spine... which means I must have picked the right colour.

After that the pictures came thick and fast, with a few decisions made remotely. I'd originally said to paint the mirrors black and to paint the top side of the carbon boot spoiler pink... but decided on colour-coded mirrors and unpainted spoiler. We also decided to keep the whole of the carbon rear diffuser unpainted, figuring it was easier to paint later if desired... in the meantime there's a whole lot of carbon to show off, so why not!?

Other little touches that were quite cool were new window rubbers all round, Kwok deciding to not paint over the sticker behind the sideskirts to show they're genuine Reiger ones, and the fact he convinced me to spend another £80 on a solenoid for the fuel filler cap remote release. It's not something I'd ever noticed didn't work, so I could have not bothered, but if you're doing something, you may as well do it properly.

But obviously, seeing it in pictures is quite different to seeing it in the metal so there were still some nerves when we set off to pick it up. Fortunately, I needn't have been nervous because the end result is pretty much exactly what I hoped for. In fact, if anyone seems a bit nervous now it's Dan and his rusty/standard Civic.

E46 M3 rubystone red pink
Literally the cleanest it will ever be
e46 m3 rubystone red
Getting out proved to be a dampening experience though
GTR and M3 in different colours
Popping in to see my old dad... we appear to be forming an automotive rainbow between us!

Sure, there will be detractors. And I'm sure there will also be a few slightly unoriginal 'girly' comments. But you have to remember I rocked around in a bright green camouflage Escort for a while so I'm pretty sure I can handle it. Besides, I genuinely love the colour and it's such a lovely job by Kode that I may end up stroking the special clear coat so much I forget to actually drive it anywhere for people to see!

In all seriousness though, I'm proper chuffed with the outcome. A few people have said they didn't think it would work, but have changed their minds, so I guess that's a good thing. But more importantly I hope that people see it, remember the old Max Power spirit of not giving a flying f%$k and somehow get inspired to build the car they want.

The work Kode did came to about £4,500 so it's not cheap (but if you want someone that can pretty much make your vision a reality then you really need to look no further). Add in the new carbon parts (splitter and foglight ducts), the recent subframe repair, coilovers and big brake kit on the front and you do start wondering how to explain it all to the wife. Currently though she thinks the brakes were cheap as I got them on eBay, the respray was almost free as they were trying to get rid of the paint (who wants pink paint right?) and the subframe repair was done under a recall. So... I reckon I'm good to go for the next mods pretty soon.

In the meantime, check out the video of seeing the pink M3 for the first time:

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Wow, Millsy's M3 looks stunning with that fresh paint job! But if you're on the hunt for your own project car or just looking for a great deal, I highly recommend checking out They have a fantastic selection of salvage cars, including Volkswagen Golf models, where you can find hidden gems waiting to be restored or customized to your liking. It's the perfect place to find your next automotive project and bring your own unique vision to life.

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