15 May Fresher Than Fresh
We always strive to make every car much better than when it came in. Today is a rather extreme example of that.
If you remember the saga of the white E46 M3 from before our blog outage, wonderful. If not, here’s a quick backstory — a white E46 M3 came in to the shop one day. The owner had just purchased it on a salvage title, and wanted to install the TMS subframe reinforcement kit. Once the car arrived here, we test drove it and then put it in the air, which revealed one major issue with the car — namely, the subframe had almost ripped itself entirely clean off the floor. That stress, which compounded over time, created serious deficiencies in the overall vehicle construction that needed to be addressed. For that reason, we had to remove extensive parts of the floor of the car and replace them with genuine OEM replacements straight from BMW. Once the new parts arrived, we welded in the TMS kit, and that’s where we left you last. Now, it’s time to get this bad boy all together again. Once the TMS kit was welded into the body, it was time to remove the rearmost part of the floor. First, we had to grind down the edges of the body to find all the spot welds.
After the welds were discovered and removed, we were able to drop the old pan, which is now awaiting recycling. With the floor completely empty, we prepared the still-existing sheet metal to mate up to the new floor, sprayed some weld-through primer in a few spots for protection (that’s the red stuff you see on the new metal parts), and put the new floor into place.
From there, we began the time-honored tradition of replacing body panels — the spot welding. In a short amount of time, the floor was spot welded into place, and it fit perfectly, as one might guess.
With the welds in place, we cleaned up the sheet metal a bit and proceeded to lay down the appropriate liner on both sides of the floor, to give it that perfectly OEM look.
Once everything in the underbody was exactly as it should be, we went to task on the next part of the job, which would help show us how well the floor was lined up. As we put the bumper on and began reassembling the rear, everything was sliding into place nicely. So we continued on with the reinstallation of all the various parts — portions of the wiring harness, various other cables and wires, and the entire rear drivetrain assembly. The urge to test this car out was rising, and we were all excited to get this car back on the ground.
As the last pieces came into place, it looked no different than any other E46 M3 that rolls through our parking lot, which is a good sign that we’ve done everything perfectly. A road test would soon confirm that; after the initial drive with the broken body, one of our techs recalled that he’d never been as close to death as he was just then. Would his opinion change after the work had been performed? Of course it would — according to him, it felt like one of the tightest M3s he’d ever driven, if not the most. Since the E46 M3 is lauded as one of the greatest sports cars of all time, we knew that we had to do it justice in this build, and with everything said and done, we feel we have. All that’s left now is for the owner to come and get it!
If there’s one thing this blog post should stress to you fair readers, it’s that you should really jump on the E46 M3 subframe issue early on in the car’s life, before something happens that changes it from a 6-hour job into something that takes a couple weeks and replaces ~20% of the body of the car. Have a great remainder of your day, and we’ll be back tomorrow!