Words: Paul Jakubicki & Manny de Zilva      Photography: Paul Jakubicki

According to the late James Dean, “gratification comes in the doing, not in the results”. True in most regards, but in the case of Manny de Zilva’s E46 M3, gratification comes in both the doing and the results.

Years of involvement in both the JDM and Euro scene, Manny’s journey towards building his M3 hasn’t been without heartbreaking disappointment.

Manny: After writing off my old widebody E46 330ci which I had invested years of savings and time into, I was dis-heartened to modify another car but as a couple of months passed, I could not hide the fact that I was an enthusiast and the bug got into me yet again.  I searched the sports car market and narrowed down my search to an R34 GTR or an E46 M3 as they were my favourite cars that suited my price range at the time. But in the end I chose the M3 as it was a car that I have always loved even as a kid, I had to have it so I pulled the trigger making this the third e46 I would own!

And then the real fun began… introducing Manny’s Mental E46 M3.

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At first glance it’s clear to see that this German beast is not stock. Anywhere you look, something has been tweaked, modified, improved.

Manny: I modified my car with one thing in mind and that’s to be unique. Some of the parts I have chosen are very rare in this world and my car is the only example to wear them in Australia.

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Manny: I had the custom “E92 GTR hybrid” hood made which is a cross between an E46 M3 GTR and E92 M3 because it’s subtle yet aggressive and I think there is only 3-4 of these in existence at the moment.

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Manny: AGT rear underbody diffuser and carbon side skirt diffusers were chosen for aerodynamics, which are also very rare due to pricing and supply, this is also a piece that is unique to my car here in Australia. It was an appealing choice because I wanted to give my car some JDM flair.

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Manny: The Varrstoen wheels weren’t quite chosen for the car, they were meant to be temporary shoes as they were pretty much left-overs from my old E46 which got written off. I bought a set of 2-piece DPE R07 variant S wheels but I preferred the look of the Varrstoen’s and it complimented the rest of the mods well so they stuck.

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Behind the wheels lies a track friendly Stoptech 328mm rotor and pad upgrade, along with braided stainless steel brakelines containing STR600 Brake Fluid they combine to give the M3 some serious stopping power.

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Whichever angle you look at this car, you can’t help but to stop and stare. The fitment of the Varrstoen’s is just perfect!

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The marriage of the parts chosen, from the custom painted carbon CSL boot to the AGT diffusers and the Varrstoen wheels, it all just works perfectly.

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There are carbon bits anywhere you look. From the underbody, interior to the kidney grills and our favourite the AC Schnitzer Replica 3 piece carbon front lip…The ECS Tuning tow hook adds a nice subtle hint that this is not just a beauty queen.

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The external mods are one thing, the internal ones are another. The engine and drivetrain haven’t been spared with some quality upgrades splashing every facet. Supersprint metallic catalytic converter and lightweight straight pipe matches the Mille Miglia race exhaust perfectly, while the Turner Motorsport Stage 2 carbon intake and ESS ECU tune make this thing breathe better and sound incredible.

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Handling wise, not much has been spared. H&R coilovers, BC Racing camber tops, Racing Dynamics strut brace and Whiteline endlinks are a start, but add a full Turner Motorsport sway bar upgrade and adjustable rear control arms and you’re starting to get serious. But wait, there’s more! Powerflex subframe bushes and a BM Autologic subframe reinforcement and underbody restoration complete the full suspension overhaul. How does it handle? F**ken amazing!

The interior also has it’s fair share of cosmetic enhancements, from the 8-piece silver carbon trim kit to the Genuine AC Schnitzer shift knob, pedals and park brake.

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The extended aluminium SMG shift paddles make you want to smash through the gears!

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Even though the sound of the M3s S54 straight 6 may be enough aural pleasure for most people, Manny has also updated the cars sound system with a custom Rockford Fosgate boot-setup consisting of P1 subwoofers and p400 amplifiers.

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Manny: To me the car feel like the total package, its timeless bodylines, luxury interior features, 50:50 weight distribution for perfect handling, distinct exhaust note, a high-revving, powerful and responsive straight 6 motor that sounds great combined with the raw SMG gearbox which gives it a race car feel, it ticks all the boxes.

As beautiful as this M3 is, and with the amount of work put into it, is it finished? Far from it. Recaro RS-GT seats will be adorning the interior very soon, and a VT2-575 Supercharger System will again transform this beast into the ultimate road warrior.

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Anywhere it gets driven, it turns heads. Coming into Spring and Summer, be sure to see this work of art gracing the streets of Melbourne.

Full Part Listing

Engine, Intake and exhaust

Supersprint section 1 with metallic catalytic converter

Supersprint section 2 lightweight straight pipe

Mille Miglia race exhaust

Turner Motorsport Stage 2 carbon intake

ESS ECU tune

TMS underdrive pulleys


AC Schnitzer Replica 3 piece carbon front lip

AGT carbon sideskirt diffusers

AGT rear carbon underbody diffuser

Weight reduction and cosmetic enhancement

CSL carbon boot

E92 GTR hybrid hood

CSL carbon rear diffuser

Carbon roof spoiler

Carbon kidney Grills

Carbon fog covers

Carbon side grills

Carbon shark fin

Custom black chrome bumper mesh

Carbon badges all round

Carbon pollen filter cover

ECS Tuning tow hook kit

Interior and Boot

LED Interior kit

Silver Carbon 8-piece interior trim kit

Genuine AC Schnitzer Shift knob, pedals, park brake

Extended Aluminium SMG shift paddles

Dynavin V5 headunit

Custom Rockford Fosgate boot-setup

Suspension and Chassis

H&R Coilovers with custom 14kg rear and 10kg front spring rates

Turner Motorsport Front/Rear 30/25 Sway Bar Upgrade

Whiteline endlinks

BC racing camber tops

Turner Motorsport adjustable rear control arms

Racing dynamics strut bar

Powerflex subframe bushes

BM Autologic subframe re-enforcement and underbody restoration

Wheels and brakes

StopTech Stage 2 Brake Upgrade (Slotted Rotors/ST Pads)

Stoptech stainless steel brakelines with STR600 Brake Fluid

Varrstoen 1.1.2 wheels 19×9.5 et20 Front 19×11 et0 Rear

Extended chrome locking wheel nuts

Yokohama AS01 245/35 Front, 285/30 Rear


Smoked LED indicators all round

Custom blacked out projectors with 6000k angel eyes

Smoked LED tail lights

Umnitza 6000k fog lights