Enthusiast Makes BMW Z3 M Coupe into a 850-HP Monster!

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M Coupe features Corvette Z06 brakes, the powertrain from an E46 M3, a supercharger and a scary amount of power.

As Marcus Vandenberg, host of Youtube channel Roads Untraveled says in this video, the BMW Z3 M Coupe is “one of the most polarizing vehicles ever created.” People either love the “Clown Shoe” design or hate it. Ghery Akopyan, co-owner of Garage 54 in Glendale, California, fell in love with the original M Coupe as a teenager and expressed his affinity for it by turning one of the unusual Bimmers into a street-legal, track-ready monster.

Ten years ago, Akopyan bought one of his own and started personalizing it. He ripped out the original S52 inline-six and replaced it with a Euro-spec S52. After that gave him problems, he tossed it, stripped the M Coupe completely down, then installed the S54 I6 and six-speed manual from an E46 M3.

5series.net Garage 54 Tuned BMW Z3 M Coupe

That was just a starting point, though. He put in new cams, rods, and bearings, and sleeved the engine block, reducing the size of the pistons and taking the displacement down to 3.1 liters. He even tweaked the VANOS setup and modernized the traction control and braking systems.

Akopyan is an avid racer, so he fortified the cooling system to handle hot California track day temperatures. For an extra dose of power, he converted the fuel system to run on E85 only, added a methanol injection system, and bolted in a Vortech supercharger. According to Akopyan, “With 20 pounds of boost … it makes a little over 800 wheel horsepower.”

5series.net Garage 54 Tuned BMW Z3 M Coupe

A custom suspension and fully tube-framed rear end put all of that power to the road. When it’s time to slow down, six-piston front and four-piston rear calipers from an Audi touring car clamp down on C6 Corvette Z06 rotors.

5series.net Garage 54 Tuned BMW Z3 M Coupe

Inside, Akopyan’s passion project features the steering wheel from a Z4 M Coupe and a custom wood shift knob that took a Mexican artisan three months to craft. A custom sound system gives him something to listen to aside from the raspy notes from the custom exhaust.

5series.net Garage 54 Tuned BMW Z3 M Coupe

Vardan Shamamyan (aka Vik), co-owner of Garage 54, describes his business partner’s car as “a go-kart on rails with steroids and a Viagra pill thrown into it.” Vandenberg gets to experience the M Coupe in all of its superlative glory out on the open winding roads of SoCal. Even at a boost level somewhere between 10 and 14 psi, the souped-up six cranks out an estimated 500-600 horsepower at the rear wheels. He points out that the centrifugal supercharger is a great match for the S54’s power band because both build power similarly. Combined, they make the M Coupe frighteningly quick. Vandenburg says, “If you’re on a wide-open road … you really, really can open it up and gradually … feel the weight transfer through the corners. It is a very powerful straight-line car, but at the same time, it still retains what M … went out of their way to do with this car.”

5series.net Garage 54 Tuned BMW Z3 M Coupe

It seems Akopyan went a step further. He made a polarizing car into one that anyone would say is painstakingly crafted and monstrously powerful.

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Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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