"In this Special Series about the M3 V8 Widened & Vented Front Fender Kit, I document the development targets, unboxing and fitment of the complete carbon kit made in Germany.
In this entry, I lay out the goals, unbox one of the first kit ever produced and touch on its design and functional features."
I previously introduced this new German manfaucturer to the M3 V8 world in the "Back to Basics" entry about the E92 OE+ Carbon Trunk. I mentioned I had previously sourced a few of his E46 M3 products without diving into details.
One of those product was the widened carbon fender set. The adds 10mm at the top of the arch while retaining the stock bumper alignment.
The fenders are completely made from carbon fiber.
These fenders open up a range of new possibilities: lower offset wheels mean more caliper and strut clearances.
My primary objective to widening the E46's front is fitting larger wheels and tires. I will fit a 19x10 with a 265. At first glance, it's nothing outrageous for the E46 world, but the final front offsets will surprise a few.
[...] with few visual cues.
It is a visually extremely subtle upgrade on the E46, even to its most devoted fanatics. For me, this embodies the OE+ philosophy.
You won't see a difference from this angle.
We can feel there's something unusually fat about the passenger side fender from this angle.
The previous owner's weak sauce wheels and the original gel coat finish were giving away back in Fall '22.
The V8 is built different.
The M3 V8 marked immense departures from the E46 in most dimensions: engineering, manufacturing, engine, transmission, suspension design, etc - arguably the most impactful was visual.
Designed by Joji Nagashima, the E9x M3 was much rounder than the standard E46 M3, taking inspiration from Chris Bangle's flame surfacing designs.
Notably, the bumper to fender line was moved at the top of the headlights.
It matters to us on the topic of widening the front end as we cannot simply replace the fenders and call it a day. We need a whole new bumper or some form of extensions.
The design choices.
With these design parameters in mind, I explored design possibilities to widening the E9x M3's front end.
We discussed doing a Euro-style complete carbon bumper along with the fenders. This would have run up above 6,000 USD prior to shipping, fitting, and new wheels. tires.
We ultimately decided against it due to tooling costs and its impact on final market price.
The Euro-style bumper is essentially a reflector & sprinkler delete, as I performed on my M3.
I had already seen a kit from Motorsport24 in Germany that widened the front end using front bumper extensions that needed to be molded into the front bumper to fit.
The kit was manufactured in fiberglass as standard and offered in carbon optionally. The fenders were deemed "motorsport" fitment - as in, expect work to make them fit, and some gaps no matter what.
This kit has been around for a while and is something I can source.
The kit allowed the use of the M4 GT4 18x11J ET30 wheels at the front.
If we need more, then let's do more.
The front bumper extensions and fenders combination was the design solution we chose. If this was going to cost more than the E46 M3 solution, then we both felt we should be offering more value to M3 V8 owners.
Sascha designed and built the tooling over the Summer of '23. The initial prototype set went to a German M3 V8 owner that lent his car for development.
The tooling was built on a leap of faith with some trust.
A few members were willing to commit to the first sets produced and those were exceptionally prioritized.
I ended up receiving the 3rd set ever produced in September '23 from DHL after 3 weeks in transit.
Below are my unboxing notes combined with the technical specifications of the kit.
+15mm across the radius
The E46 M3 fenders were designed with a +10mm widening at the top of the arch. In practice this means the tires will stick further out by the bumper and lower section of the fender.
On the M3 V8, we did more. The fenders and front bumper extensions enhances the front end by 15mm across the overwhelming majority of the wheel well's radius.
I positioned the extension at the angle it will sit on the bumper.
The extension mimics the contours and angles of the OEM fender lines.
The added width is further evident due to the 2 pieces - how it will look on the car is up to your mind to visualize as of today.
[...] and street friendly vents.
These fenders were designed with vents by the lower section of the liner unlike any other solution on the market. I strongly pushed for this solution based on a few arguments.
I wanted something street friendly with some subtleness.
The vents come without grills. This is up to you to fabricate if you choose to add some. I won't personally know until it's on the car.
What about the RS style?
The alternative would have been GT3 RS style vents at the top of the fenders. I feel they are played out nor not period correct. From a marketing perspective, they are readily available from other competitors in various price ranges and solutions.
They also require you to cut the liner in in an area that has drawbacks - if it rains, you'll hate this. It's a motorsport aerodynamic & brake cooling solution first and foremost.
The solution we chose is useful to ventilate thermal energy emanating front brakes - not aero.
Complete carbon construction.
The complete kit is made from vacuum infused carbon fiber. It is the same construction as the E92 OE+ Carbon Trunk. The Genuine BMW fenders are made from a thermoplastic composite. I do not expect much weight savings here contrary to doors and the trunk.
This process does allows to reach a higher tensile strength target than OEM and conform to the complex curvatures of these body panels without using any fiberglass in any way shape or form within the structure.
This process adds the hardening epoxy into the carbon resin using vacuum in sealed bags without autoclave. You can see traces of the resin's application below.
It makes for a shorter production cycle and less expensive parts, with more strigent quality control processes to ensure repeatability of parts. Still, there won't be a 1,000 of these kits produced.
The bumper extensions are also produced from carbon fiber and gel coated in black on the underside and off white on the top side.
Here are production pictures for my specific set provided. These sections are bonded together the hollow front bumper extensions.
The CSL bumper and widened fenders I have fitted to my E46 M3 were the best fitting aftermarket parts my local paint & body shop, ExclusivAutomotiv, have ever seen across the board.
Our expectations are equal quality for the fenders. There is some caveat due to the requirements to mold in the extensions to the front bumper. This is not a DIY and will require professional installation.
The fenders have every single tabs and mounting points from the OEM fenders, including the side indicators.
The fenders also have threaded inserts that are used to bolt the bumper and fenders together.
The tabs are slotted, as on the original Genuine BMW composite fenders.
All the cut outs are present and cleanly carved out. There is no excess material anywhere.
The fender also clears the OEM brake vacuum pump that is bolted by the outside of the chassis, within the fender liner on the driver side.
Most importantly, the corners are perfect, and slightly rounded off just like OEM. You can see careful attention here as these corners were visibly hand sanded out of the mold.
Ready for paint.
The outer shell is gel coated in an off white color, ready for paint. Prior to fitting the bumper and fenders on the E46 M3, we did apply a sealer that we used across the car. This is up to your painter's preference.
Very little to no sanding work is required before final paint application. These parts are proper.
The underside of the fenders are left bare carbon with two matte stripes for style points.
The underside of the front bumper extensions are gel coated in glossy black. This is to provide a smoother surface than the underside of raw carbon.
Up next: welcome to uncharted territories.
I test fit this over the weekend with some painter's tape and patience.
I'll loop back in with my notes.