FB Update: VRS Panda E92

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Varis Panda E92 M3 demo car

Sexy Varis VRS “panda” BMW E92 M3!  Found via our friends Varis on their Facebook.

This post has been rebroadcast from our Facebook fan page.  To see similar updates, visit us at http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm.

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While You Were Sleeping

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Here’s some killer stuff you missed that we were sharing and talking about on our facebook page. Don’t sleep. Check us out here: http://www.facebook.com/therealjdm

Tamon Design AP1 S2000 Wind Tunnel





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Craft Japan’s Audi TT

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I was checking out random Japanese websites today and came across a recent photo shoot of this Audi TT. Now I don’t post much Audi content here, but this Japanese tuned TT is pretty incredible. It has all of the usual Japanese touches from the Japanese produced BBS LM wheels to the vented hood and functional aero kit. By the way, for those wondering, yes BBS makes some of their wheels in Japan and not all of them in Germany.


Looks like this car will soon be featured in Japan’s Auto Fasion Imp magazine.

Check out these crazy headlights by the way. Not really sure if I like all of what they did here, but it’s interesting at the least.

craft audi tt headlight

The guys at Craft are definitely on top of their Euro game. I’ll leave you with another car they’ve built, the ever classic Ericsson kitted M3

Ericsson M3

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Two Great Japanese Tuner Cars Of The Moment

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In Japan there is never a shortage of amazing tuner cars. I just wanted to share two of them that I appreciate at the moment.

1. The Varis/VRS BMW E92 M3.

Although I could do without some of the graphics (or perhaps a different design), the overall functional tune of the car is flawless. From the functional VRS aero to the Endless monoblock 6piston race brakes, this is a very focused and serious track oriented M3.


2. A sneak peek of a dry carbon R35 GT-R Spec V in Japan. GT-RR.COM will be putting out more information on this one soon…for now, I just love this picture here.

TMR R35 GT-R Dry Carbon

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Visiting Amuse – Many Topics From An Amuse Freak by Ben Schaffer

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Bulletproof Visits Powerhouse Amuse 2010

One of the great things about working with Japanese companies as their distributor for a decade is that we get treated so nicely when we visit Japan!

I’ve been meaning to blog about various things we did during our last trip to Japan, and our visit to Amuse has been at the top of my list. I’ve been working with Amuse and importing their parts for 9 years now. I must say my love for Amuse Titanium and Dry Carbon has stayed just as strong now as it ever was.

Seriously, how can you look at this picture below and not be in love with Amuse quality:

Bulletproof Visits Powerhouse Amuse 2010

Having just received a full revamped exhaust system for my personal S2000 I’m on my Amuse high all over again. I also recently ordered up a bunch of Amuse parts for another car I just picked up (more on that another time). Basically I cant imagine modifying a car without at the very least an Amuse exhaust at this point in my evolution as a car freak.

Bulletproof Visits Powerhouse Amuse 2010

If you click on the picture above, its a perfect angle to appreciate the subtlety of what Amuse calls the “gold ring” option for their titanium tips. The gold ring is subtle but I always tend to order it up whenever I have the chance (my two cars with Amuse exhausts both have gold ring B tail tips). It shows nicely the absolute precision that Amuse has with heating their titanium to create their finishes, I have never seen any other company come close.

Bulletproof Visits Powerhouse Amuse 2010

Amuse, more than any other company I’ve ever encountered, has a knack for making people want to buy a car that they previously did not consider buying. This happened with me personally back in 2004 when I first saw their exhaust for the E46 M3. I always liked BMWs, but when I saw that exhaust in person back then, I re-evaluated my finances and I seriously started considering buying the car just for the exhaust! I don’t know of any other company who can make that type of impact. And it’s not just me…I’ve talked to at least a dozen people in the past couple of months who have told me that they never liked the 370Z but after seeing the Amuse Vestito aero kit they are considering buying the car just to run the aero kit. Time will tell if the 370Z market will support Amuse and help Amuse recoup their major investment into design/tooling and production of those parts. We have a few kits on order coming in and so far Amuse is a bit at risk of not even breaking even on their major development costs on the 370Z. I sincerely hope that nobody asks for or creates a knockoff of this kit because that’ll probably be the last time Amuse steps out on a limb to make something as impressive as this at their significant expense.

Bulletproof Visits Powerhouse Amuse 2010

Ah…the E92 M3 Ericsson demo car…one of my all time favorite demo cars. As impeccable as this car is in concept and execution,  this car is mostly misunderstood outside of Japan. Let me explain it quickly to set the record straight. The E92 M3 in Japan costs approx $120,000+. In the US it costs $57,000. Amuse designed this car and the modifications for a $120,000 car. Their target and concept was the Porsche GT3 (similar price point as a competitor) and the idea to increase power but more importantly to decrease weight using exotic materials and smart engineering. Ericsson/Amuse did not think about North American BMW pricing and client demographics or even know that the car overseas is half the price . They designed it to be a GT3 destroyer in Japan. Most $57,000 car owners would laugh at paying top quality level pricing for dry carbon bumpers, doors, hood, trunk, etc. But if you paid $120,000 for the car and wanted the GT3 equivalent that BMW never made, it makes a hell of a lot more sense. Looking back, what most North American M3 owners need are cheaper parts from Ericsson which are made and priced for a $57,000 car. I will say however that it will never happen because Amuse/Ericsson never compromises on quality and would rather simply not put their name on it than to release an average part which is targeted for price competition. There is your answer to everyone who thinks Amuse is insane for making the parts at the prices they have for the BMW lineup.

Lastly the infamous Phantom GT-R…Here is a point even I did not know (and I’m someone who is obsessive about Amuse).

This Phantom GT-R is the exact same specification as it was two years ago. Tanabe-san, the legendary founder, designer, tuner, race car driver and overall industry icon passed away shortly after creating this GT-R. His last two creations were this car and the M3 demo car. I recently learned the reason why Amuse has not continued to evolve this car. This Phantom GT-R is the brilliant gift that Tanabe-san left behind and it was his final contribution to the world of Japanese tuning. Out of respect for his perfect creation, Amuse has never modified this car any further despite the multiple years of knowledge and innovation that they are capable of adding to it. The fact that still nobody has recorded a faster R35 GT-R lap at Tsukuba than Tanabe-san behind the wheel of this car years ago is testament to the quality of his design and tuning. This car represents his last work, and for that reason it remains as it was. Perfect.

Bulletproof Visits Powerhouse Amuse 2010

PS – Photos shot by our very own Colin Chu during our recent visit to Amuse

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The big news today is this amazingly nice BMW M3 variant called the GTS. Watching the video makes it hard to not fall in love with this car. What first comes to mind to me however is just how closely comparable the high end aftermarket tuning scene is to BMW’s factory tuned effort. This idea is what I want to talk about.

This factory tuned GTS uses many familiar tricks of the aftermarket trade. Having been behind the scenes with so many high end builds over the years, it is interesting for me to compare the money spent in aftermarket modifications and the associated results vs a factory tuned effort such as this one.

BMW has priced this model at a USD equivalent of $170,200 at today’s exchange rates. If you remove prestige, collect-ability and resale value from the equation there is a very valid question here…what does more than $100,000 in upgrades get you? And from my point of view, even more interesting is comparing that $100+k to what a comparable budget would yield with aftermarket tuning and support.

This topic has also come up in conversations about the GT-R Spec V and the fact that it too costs nearly $100,000 more than the normal GT-R. In the case of the Spec V I feel quite confidently that such a large sum of money would go a much longer distance with a properly consulted aftermarket tuning plan.

Rather than focus solely at prices and comparing what if scenarios, what I find really interesting is looking at the parts selection and quality that the factories use vs aftermarket equivalents.

BMW E92 M3 GTS vs Ericsson Titanium

Having a look at that BMW GTS burnt titanium exhaust, it is hard to not draw a comparison to my own personal favorite M3 exhaust by Amuse’s BMW branch Ericsson.

BMW E92 M3 Ericsson

As we introduced Ericsson parts to the BMW community and to this day continue to promote and distribute their parts, the most common complaint by BMW enthusiasts is the price of the system. It is without a doubt expensive, nobody could argue that it is cheap. But the question that begs to be asked, is compared to what…If an aftermarket E92 M3 was produced to take on the GTS, I would bet that using quality parts like this would still result in a car that is potentially faster for less money than the GTS.

For comparison’s sake, BMW’s mention top billing of the following categories of upgrades to justify the price of the GTS from a more standard E92 M3: Double adjustable coilover suspension upgrade (aftermarket I’d suggest JRZ), adjustable rear spoiler (aftermarket I’d suggest Voltex dry carbon), upgraded wheels (Neez), upgraded brakes (Endless or Brembo), light weight seats and interior (Recaro ASM RS-G and Ericsson dry carbon door panels). The majority of the modifications they’ve done, I’d argue could be done already within the aftermarket and I’d bet my own hard earned money that some of the aftermarket parts (especially that Ericsson exhaust would far exceed the quality of the OEM BMW piece…BMW has already said only the rear silencer is titanium whereas Ericsson’s full system is titanium from the rear all the way to the headers).

Where the factory has the aftermarket beat is on the R&D and engineering front to build a cohesive package that performs in balance. Doing an aftermarket build takes lots of trial and error and skilled specialists for fine tuning things such as alignment and suspension damper settings. Getting a solid warranty on a build NA engine in the aftermarket is also a little more scary than using BMW’s engine in the GTS. There are many areas with refinement, tuning and reliability that the aftermarket may have a disadvantage.

There’s no right or wrong answer to this debate of comparing the value and performance of a factory tuned car vs an aftermarket tuned car. But it is a fun debate to have and I’d love to hear what you all feel on the topic, as we continue to see more really cool limited edition performance models of our favorite sports cars.

Speaking just for myself, I’d much rather take the money of a Spec V or a GTS and build my own tuned variant…and if someone wanted to put me up to the test, I’d gladly bet my own money that my car is faster than the OEM tuned variant for the same price or less by the time I’m done with it. That’d be a really fun challenge!

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BMW V10 M3 Swaps and More

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My buddy Jon Sibal made a great post on his blog recently that I’m going to “borrow heavily” from here.


So you started reading this post because it said V10 M3 right? But wait just one second…First I want to show you a V8 (old M5 engine) powered E30 Alpina M3 which is SUPER CLEAN. I have a thing for E30s and this one is just perfect (color choice, wheel setup, everything is perfect and time appropriate for the look of the car).

M5 V8 Powered E30 M3M5 V8 Powered E30 M3M5 V8 Powered E30 M3

Alright, now that you’re warmed up lets get to the main course…V10 M5 power slammed into lighter chassis BMWs

First, how about a Z4 V10?

M5 V8 Powered E30 M3E60 M5 V10 Powered Z4 BMW

Now on to M3s as promised…

E60 M5 V10 Powered Z4 BMW

E60 M5 V10 Powered Z4 BMWE60 M5 V10 Powered Z4 BMWE60 M5 V10 Powered Z4 BMW

On that last picture, the wagon, the took it a step further and slapped on a pair of turbos. Why not…

Manhart-Racing is resposnible for these cars. If I had a BMW this is what I’d want to do with it! V10 E92 M3 with Ericsson exhaust and full aero, thats my style right there!

This stuff all brings me back to the mid 90s when I was totally blown away reading a magazine article about a Racing Dynamics 318ti with a 850csi V12 engine swap. Same idea, a decade and a half later and I’m still blown away by this stuff.

UPDATE: A Cardomain member is almost finished with his E60 M5 V10 swap into his E30 M3. To see the build go to:


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