Twin M3 11/09



Twin M3 11/09
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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery than Peter Manolis
has every right to be pleased with himself.
Words: Joel Newman
Photos: Matt Barnes
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I ask him what he did when his car arrived at the
docks and am taken aback by his response:
“I turned the traction control off and went drifting”
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t 27 years of age, young Cypriot Peter Manolis
has achieved a great deal. He owns and runs
Cougar Power Motorsport, professional tuning
outfit for European and Japanese performance
cars. Through Cougar, Peter has built such a
beautiful Phoenix yellow E46 M3 convertible that he
inspired a fellow BMW enthusiast to not merely take a few
of his ideas, or to utilise a similar set of wheels or audio
install: no, Peter’s car was so good that George
Papadopoulos wanted it lock, stock and carbon bonnet.
Sadly for George, it wasn’t for sale.
There was only one thing for it – George went out and
bought his very own E46 M3, albeit a coupé, and
approached Peter with the words, ‘Build me one’. Not
being one to upset his customers, Peter promptly agreed to
get the project rolling.
But before getting to George’s build story, let’s rewind to
how Peter and Cougar began development of that gorgeous
M3 drophead. Amazingly, Peter sourced his vehicle from
London! It may seem crazy, especially as George sourced
his coupé from a local Cypriot dealership, so we’ll let Peter
explain: “I wanted the perfect base car with the perfect
factory spec. Importing the car meant I could get my hands
on one earlier, it gave me far more choice and it was, even
with import taxes, cheaper than purchasing a new model
here. If you buy from a local dealership you take what they
have, and the options are rather limited. For me finding the
ideal base car was extremely important.”
With so much time and effort ploughed into sourcing
the perfect project car, I assume Peter is one of those
types; you know, the ones who spend thousands on body
mods and forced induction, only to park their car up and
look at it. So I ask him what he did when his car arrived
at the docks and am taken aback by his response. “I
turned the traction control off and went drifting. I’d been
waiting for that moment for such a long time and I was so
excited I just couldn’t help myself.” Maybe I misjudged
you Peter…
As a distributor for major tuners such as Vorsteiner,
iForged, CCR Racing, and Active Autowerkes Peter wasn’t
short of contacts for sorting out mods for his M3 project.
As luck would have it, Vorsteiner was keen to tap into the
Cypriot tuning market and with no base in the country
decided to work together with Cougar: Peter’s M3 was
to become the demonstrator for its carbon E46 product
Ticking his way through the catalogue, Peter had soon
ordered a new Vorsteiner carbon GTR bonnet, rear diffuser
and side skirts, as well as a VRS front lip and
CSL-style bumper. Nice work if you can get it!
Once all the carbon kit was fitted, the car’s suspension
needed revision, especially in light of the planned 20”
rollers. Tuners’ favourite, KW Variant 3s, fitted the bill
perfectly, enabling Peter to drop the car more than 40mm
all round. This would prove essential to compliment the
forthcoming performance boost and help highlight the
gigantic diameter of the 20” gold iForged deep-dish rims.
Carbon styling and Phoenix yellow paintwork; they look
so good together that the transformation was an immediate
success. But there’s something not quite right about an M3
dripping with the world’s finest aftermarket wheels and
body parts that still goes like any other M3.
“To me performance is the most important factor, and
having been involved with the tuning of everything from
turbocharged 355 Ferraris to Mazda RX-7s I wanted my
new German love to get some similar treatment.”
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With the help of UK-based CA Automotive, Peter got hold
of an Active Autowerke Stage 4 supercharger kit which,
alongside new engine management, realises 525bhp from
the standard engine. Peter popped in a Sachs racing
flywheel for peace of mind and out back fitted an
Eisenmann exhaust and decat pipe. He also slapped on a set
of oversized brakes from TWR Racing that feature 410mm
discs and eight-pot calipers. Holy mother of God!
Now for journalistic artistry I wish the installation had
had its headaches; things going bang, punches being
thrown. But Peter tells me it all went without a hitch and
has proven totally reliable, the ’charger coping with the
blistering heat of Cyprus in its stride.
With Cougar’s demo car now built there was nothing left
to do but show off all the hard work. But no one would
have predicted what an impact this car would have,
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especially on one Mr George Papadopoulos.
“I met George at a show and he was just fascinated by the car,”
reveals Peter. “We spoke and he told me about his previous
Japanese projects, such as an RX-7 and Mitsubishi GTO. With my
experience and workshop there was a great deal of common
ground and after a quick blast in the passenger seat, his smile said
all I needed to know.”
The smile to which Peter refers was swiftly followed by an
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There are very few E46 M3s sporting genuine
carbon roofs, and even fewer that can match
this level of fit and finish
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ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre in-line six S54, CCR Racing supercharger
system and ECU software, Supersprint 76mm quad exhaust system, custom decat
pipe, water meth injection system. Sachs ZF racing flywheel
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION: 3.2-litre in-line six S54, Active Autowerke
Stage 4 supercharger system and ECU software, Eisenmann 76mm quad exhaust
system, custom decat pipe. Sachs ZF clutch kit and racing flywheel
CHASSIS: 8.5x19” (front) and 10x19” (rear) polished iForged Aero wheels shod in
245/30 and 285/25 Toyo T1R tyres respectively. KW V3 coilover system. D2 big brake
kit featuring 365mm discs and six-pot calipers
CHASSIS: 8.5x20” (front) and 10x20” (rear) gold iForged Aero wheels shod in
245/30 and 285/25 Toyo T1R tyes respectively. KW V3 coilover system. TWR big
brake kit featuring 410mm discs and eight-pot calipers
EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner carbon GTR bonnet, VRS front lip, V-CSL front bumper, roof
skin and bootlid, side skirts
EXTERIOR: Vorsteiner carbon GTR bonnet, VRS front lip, V-CSL front bumper,
carbon diffuser, side skirts
INTERIOR: As standard
INTERIOR: As standard
THANKS: Vorsteiner, iForged and CA Automotive
audacious sentence, “Can you build me one?” George was instructed to find the
donor car and eventually attempted to differentiate his project by opting for the
solid-roofed E46 M3. “We live in a beautiful climate, so I felt buying the
convertible would have been cool, but Peter did just that, and besides, a coupé
should be quicker on track, too!”
Unlike Peter, George travelled just a few miles to find his Phoenix yellow
motor; a dealership in Limassol had the car he yearned for, and after handing
over – wait for it – €50,000, it was his. A spot was booked at the Cougar
workshop and now it was down to Peter to reproduce the full glory of his own
car on George’s new-found motor!
As with his own project, Peter’s first job was to put in a rather long call to
Vorsteiner. A carbon GTR bonnet, CSL-style bumper and front lip, side skirts,
rear diffuser and bootlid were soon winging their way across the Atlantic to the
Mediterranean paradise. And because it was for the coupé, Vorsteiner could
also offer its carbon CSL-style roof skin, a part that Cougar would seamlessly
integrate and one that takes this motor into unchartered territory. There are
very few E46 M3’s sporting genuine carbon roofs, and even fewer that can
match this level of fit and finish.
With the Vorsteiner carbon in place, wheels were on the agenda and having
fallen in love with everything on Peter’s convertible, George had an easy
decision to make. “I wanted the same iForged wheels only in polished
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aluminium. I also opted for 20” but i planned on slammng the
car even further.”
With the car dropped 50mm all round, it was time to deal
with performance. Unlike Peter’s convertible, the coupé
would take a new direction and utilise a different kit, one
from CCR Racing.
The CCR Racing kit is known to us: we featured an E39 M5
running one of its systems that produced just under 600bhp,
so be assured this is no cheap alternative. In fact, on the dyno
these cars both produce very similar numbers, at 515-525bhp.
Again, by choosing respected manufacturers who pride
themselves on thorough and extensive testing, the kit bolted
straight in, and with its bespoke software ran perfectly first
time. Although not necessarily required, Peter also persuaded
George to fit a superior Sachs racing flywheel, and to
differentiate the vocal tones of the two cars, a Supersprint
back box.
Big brakes were the next stop, so to speak, with a D2 big
brake kit featuring 365mm discs and whopping six-pot
calipers slotted in behind those gaping rims.
In their own right each car is impressive. They are both
more around 50% more powerful than their standard
counterparts. Their tweaked chassis are now honed and more
than able to cope with devastating accelerative surges and
even more severe braking. By using only the very finest
suppliers, BMW factory fit and finish has been maintained.
And although most of us can only dream of building such
cars, it’s nice to appreciate the work of a couple of men who
actually have.
Put these M3s together and the sight is nothing short of
spectacular. On the road, heads don’t merely turn: people stop
and stare. By utilising the same styling cues these two can
amplify the interest in their vehicles simply by driving or
parking alongside one another. It’s a modifying trick I’d never
thought of, and credit goes to Peter. Rather than draw the
limelight away from his stunning convertible, the identical
Phoenix yellow coupé ramps up the intensity of attention they
receive. On their own each owner can enjoy the plaudits
heaped on a glorious and bespoke feature car. Together
they’re an indulgent expression of good taste ●

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