There’s this weird cycle when it comes to owning a car. We’re all so excited in the beginning. It’s fast. And tight. We’re just so thrilled to own it. But slowly, things change. Your friend gets the same car and puts on rims. You get used to the speed. You need to grab more attention. But it’s a slippery slope. Welcome to the myth of modifying your car.
But before I explain that myth, let’s have an example of a modified car that truly works.
What it takes to look unique
No doubt, any M3 is a special car – a great start as a blank canvas to make it your own. And the first time I saw Ram’s F80 M3 at MPACT last year, it stuck with me. The thing with big shows is; I have no idea who owns the car. They are usually out enjoying it themselves.
While many people email me asking for shoots, not every car is able to make it onto these pages. So lucky me when Ram asked me for one. “Ugh, another F8X” – until I saw exactly which F80 it was.
While the outside is extremely clean and beautifully done, it’s the inside that makes this car special, standing out from a sea of M3-too cars. Peep the attention to detail here:
- BMW M Performance Recaro seats that maintain the heating element
- Custom upholstered front seats, back seats, door cards, and shift boot in Relicate’s Spirit of Leman’s ///M fabric
- Custom e-brake boot in black leather with silver stitching
- M Performance Carbon Fiber door pulls
- Eventuri carbon fiber covers for back seat headrests
- Exclusive Steering’s custom flat bottom steering wheel (again, with heat)
- M Performance carbon fiber steering wheel trim
- Black Forest Industries GS2 shift knob
It’s so well done, and matches everything outside. It’s a car you’d likely not see repeated at a show, let alone coming down the road.
The #M3 too movement
Ram’s car might stand out, but it does so because it doesn’t follow the same path of everyone else.
We love changing things, don’t we? You get carbon fiber grilles, I get black ones. Yours are from a CSL, mine come from an aftermarket company that makes them abroad and requires curse words unknown to man to make them fit properly. In the end, we park them next to each other and life is good. We’re keeping up with the Jones’s.
Except now, all our mods make the cars look the same. Sort of defeats the purpose.
There are a few solutions beyond the grilles and carbon mirror caps that you probably just can’t wait to show your mates next Sunday morning. Adro sells a full body for the G80 M3 that “fix” the nose and cost an eye-watering $11,500. That’s unpainted or installed. Does it look better? Only you can decide. Is it worth almost $20,000 to fix a car you thought was good enough to buy in the first place?
Companies like Adro love to capitalize on our insecurities. “My car just isn’t good enough.” You talk to your car like you’d never talk to your spouse.
SEMA. It’s more than just a big show in Vegas. Our little niche of aftermarket parts is projected to rake in $53 billion in 2023. Everyone wants a part of that pie.
Back in 2010, black grilles were a new thing. Soon, BMW caught on, and suddenly my 2014 328i came with them from the factory. “Extended Shadowline Trim”. An extra $1,400 please. And that’s where things like M Performance Parts come into play.
I went this route with my 335 – installing their engine tune, intake, exhaust, spoiler and alcantara interior. It made the car better, but I was pretty careful to hunt for big discounts (the car had been out for a while at that point), to ensure I wouldn’t lose too much in resale value.
While you pay a premium for OEM+ parts, the quality is usually far superior to that of run-of-the-mill aftermarket companies. Sometimes those aftermarket companies (like H&R springs for instance) make the parts for M using BMW’s specs. You get to keep your warranty too (not that it matters – my exhaust can’t be blamed for a broken windshield wiper). If you’re fanatical like me, an imperfect carbon fiber wing will drive you mad, even if you saved yourself $1,000.
Modifying your car won’t always make it worth more
If I’m going to sell my modified car, I’m going to need to find a very specific buyer. Auction sites can help, but it’s still about finding the right buyer for your unique spec.
I prefer an empty canvas – please leave it very stock so I know it’s unmolested. I do not want a G80 with 800 horsepower that’s been reverted back to normal and “runs great”.
As a seller, well, you can look in my basement. It’s a BMW parts graveyard. A mix of floor mats, exhausts, badges and other goodies that were left on the cutting room floor. Sometimes I can sell things (stock E9X exhausts fetch a premium), other times no love is shown (stock E9X grille, anyone?).
And not everything works out. Those BMC panel filters are for sale, if anyone wants ’em. Another aftermarket part not worth it.
Yes, Ram’s M3 is now priced in Porsche territory, but I never really bought into those kinds of comparisons. A 911 might make a better sports car, but if it’s not what you want, who cares how good it is?
Faster and more Furious
Maybe it’s from watching all those movies growing up. Seeing Paul Walker turn wrenches on his Skyline, morphing his R34 (found in a random roadside junkyard because Hollywood) into something that’s wow.
We all want to be like Paul. Make it just right. Have all the bros walk up and high-five us as we get out. “That your car?”
But I think to truly make a car a work of art, it needs to be like Ram’s F80. Supreme attention to detail. Bespoke designs that no one else has. And time. Maybe plan your build out on paper beforehand. Set a goal.
You can buy an M3, but you can’t buy cool. It must be built.
Modified F80 M3 Gallery
Want your car reviewed?
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I use Nikon camera bodies and lenses, a Westcott Ice Light 2, Manfrotto tripod, B + W filters and an iMac Pro to make the art you see here.
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