No plan survives first contact.
"In this new Special Series "The Stripper Refresh", I look back at an intense phase for the M3 V8 chassis.
We upgraded the suspension & drivetrain, perform various while you're-in-there maintenance and restore decaying components beyond their original state.
In this entry, this is Day 0: I chat about the initial plans, how they got obliterated when we dropped the rear end on Day 1 - and how I reacted."
Day 0: The original plan.
I had spent the better part of 2021 pilling up parts sourced from suppliers I had organized group buys and pre-orders with.
The plan was to upgrade the chassis, suspension, and drivetrain to start testing out the framework to developing my blueprint for an M3 V8.
The suspension package.
The Bilstein B16 Damptronics were at the core of my suspension upgrade package.
Bilstein were consistently backordered during COVID. The B16s were sourced used from a member in Toronto. The Damptronics retain Electronic Damper Control; a key feature to the dual nature of the M3 V8.
To pair with the coilovers, I sourced the new-at-the-time hybrid camber & caster plates from Turner Motorsport.
The 034Motorsport front thrust arm and lower control arm package was an OE replacement kit with slightly stiffer rubber bushings. I only planned to use the lower control arms.
I sourced the Turner Motorsport front thrust arms with their monoball bushing to replace the OEM arms.
The chassis package.
I purchased Turner's solid subframe bushings to match the original M3 GTS rear end configuration.
I had finally received the 19x10 and 19x11 flow formed M359s to widen the track of the chassis with a wider, stickier contact patch while retaining OEM aesthetics. The tires hadn't arrived yet due to COVID delays.
The drivetrain package.
This part of the plan was audacious: I wanted to explore new combinations of lightened components for the DCT transmission, along with bulletproofing it.
I got a DCT lightweight flywheel earlier in the year from TTV racing. This design has since been updated.
I was the beta tester to the MFactory V3 carbon driveshaft. There was something off about this.
I also had improved DCT oil pans. These would stop the leaks and improved cooling.
Day 1: The first contact.
We got the car on the lift and got to work dismounting the entire front and rear suspension, unplugging all sensors to the exhaust system, transmission and rear end.
The front end was easy to work on: the MacPherson front strut configuration allows for easy in and out of the suspension. The rust was minimum due to components being mostly aluminum.
Most underbody components came off: driveshaft, heat shields, fuel bracings, etc.
There was nothing peeking through the rear bumper grill anymore, except a few loose connections: the brake lines and headlight levelling sensors can be spotted.
The rear end's dismount was more complex than the front end due to more parts, and heavier weight. The brake lines are a particular pain to remove.
Head in the snow.
My M3 V8 has seen Canadian Winters twice: in 2018 and 2019. I've also crossed the entire country with it when I first acquired, exploding an undertray in the process and chipping my hood beyond visual tolerances.
The undertray got fixed and the whole front end was resprayed, and wrapped in paint protection film - but the underbody was a can kicked down the road.
That intersection was then and there: I had acquired an M5 V10 in the Summer of 2021. It took over Winter beating duties. The all aluminum underbody was my rationalization for not caring.
The shock of rust.
Having serviced this car a few times by then, I already knew the differential's coating was flaking and had surface rust. It hit differently when the rear end was on the ground.
The differential was visibly bad, even from far out.
Up close, it was even worse.
The half shafts didn't appear too bad but the CV flanges had seen better days.
Zooming in, the coating was flaking and surface rust was forming on the tubes.
The subframe itself had flaking coating and surface rust across various sections. All things considered, it wasn't that bad, but not fitting on what I envisioned for this car.
Adversity, anxiety, curiosity - wide, overlapping spectrums to which we each react differently. There was definitely all of these and more at play here.
I was in a unique situation in my life coming off a contract in a tech startup on the West Coast and having just won a lawsuit against former business partners.
I had time, and a desire to reconnect with fundamentals.
Like the devil sitting on my shoulder, emotions were recognized and an infamous question got asked by Jonathan at ExclusivAutomotiv.
J: "So, how deep you want to go?"
J: "We could color match the rear subframe and finally fit that flywheel - I mean, why not?"
M: "Let's do it - if I can roll up my sleeves."
The team at Exclusiv allowed me the opportunity to become an apprentice mechanic at ExclusivAutomotiv for the next two months. I was definitely not the most skilled, nor the most reliable, nor the most punctual, but no tools were lost.
When I got going, I wouldn't stop until I was exhausted or missing a bolt (or two).
Up next: Day 2 and beyond.
We sand blast, strip, prep, prime and paint components.
I try to assemble a front coilover.
We drop a transmission.
While in there, I buy more parts.