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Readers Drives - Three is a Magic number...

Updated: Apr 21

This news story from Tim Barraclough has just landed on the news desk.  It’s a great read and what a brilliant automotive journey he has been on.  Tim is a great guy to do business with. Makes it fun. It was fantastic looking after his M3 CSL and building his hooligans track day M3. A chap that likes things done properly.  


Ok, not a BMW, but first ‘3’ was in 1994 and still a fast(ish) fuel injected 3 - Cosworth wheels and all...  Well I was 24 and thought it was the nuts!

But the M3’s started in 1998 with the lovely comfort spec E30 M3 D303UGP I bought for £10k from BMW Notting Hill and which is now well known to Barney and a subject of an earlier post of his:

Beautiful car but didn’t really appreciate what I had – or really know how to drive it so after scaring myself silly spinning it at about 60mph coming out of a wet roundabout on the A31, it got traded in for an E36 Evo which promptly got fitted with Schnitzer Shortshifter, pedals and a wonderful upturned twin DTM exhaust (remember those?):


But like 911’s, the good ones skip a generation and that was a bit of a dog, so on to the sublime E46’s…

First one was standard except again a Schnitzer Shortshifter – and a cassette deck - in 2003!!  In another league to the E36 and still to this day achingly pretty.

But after a ride in a friend’s CSL, I couldn’t resist one so chopped the M3 in for a CSL in 2007 – the man-maths being that I’d lose less money on a CSL…

What a difference – that noise, the lightness, the thump of the SMGII (often criticised compared to today’s DCT’s but suited the car perfectly).  A great fast road car that made the pilgrimage across the Severn to Simpson Motorsport for Intrax suspension and AP 6 pots on the front and 4’s on the rear.  Somehow, although it was better on track, it was pretty nasty on the road – just too hard and tiring.  Was lovingly maintained by Barney and the team at CH including subframe re-weld and plenty of preventative maintenance.

No low-mile garage queen that one but not a real track car either so with doing more track days in mind, we took the Intrax and the AP’s off and put them on this track weapon that Barney and Steve built for me:

No cassette decks in there…  In addition to the suspension and brakes we had Corbeau seats, Willans harnesses, Geoff Steel shortshifter and carbon splitter, OMP pull off steering wheel, 4.1 final drive, K&N cold air filter, Safety Devices bolt-in cage, Racing Dynamics 18” wheels and of course a re-welded subframe.  That really was a fun car to drive and in the right hands was keeping up with 997 GT3 RS’s…  BTCC driver Jake Hill drove it and said I should kiss whoever built it – but much to Barneys lasting disappointment, I declined!

But couldn’t justify 2 M3’s so with a heavy heart, and having had my man-maths proved right, the CSL went (but was offered back to me 2 years later at £20k more!) and along came the urge for another kind of ‘3’ so the M3 track car made way for another ‘3’, this time a 997 Gen 1 GT3 Clubsport…

No garage queen either – properly sorted out by Fearnsport at Silverstone with lots of lovely bits like Cup 380mm discs, RS19’s, RSR trailing arms, Sharkwerks bypass exhaust, single mass flywheel, 4.0l clutch, uprated diff plates, welded cooling lines, bigger brake cooling ducts and a Cup splitter (that gets replaced once a year!).  This really is a wonderful car to drive – I think the 997 was Porsche’s finest 911 which offered the right mix of feel (hydraulic steering and balance) with the right level of electronics before the lardier 991’s and all their trickery came along.  I just need to learn how to drive it properly now but damn it is pretty:

So still enjoying this for now but there was a brief dalliance with another BMW in 2018 – this time a brutally fast F10 M5 with a drink problem which actually scared me before someone did me a favour in disguise and nicked it!

That’s about it for now but still got a hankering for an E92 M3 - with a cage, Recaros, harnesses etc – but certainly nothing more modern than that – I think BMW has lost its way since the E90’s, with the E46’s being the Zenith of ‘M’ – for me at least.

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