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Homologation

The F82 M4 was BMW’s chance to, once again, build ‘The Ultimate Driving Machine.’ They succeeded in some senses, though in others they missed the mark.

Despite the various shortcomings niche groups might like to point out, at the end of the day, BMW was successful in its main goal: to sell cars. This pesky goal creates a lot of problems for certain types of enthusiasts, such as having comfortable, usable suspension, as well as loads of leather, semi-luxurious tech features, and safety items that add weight. Plus, exterior styling has been getting further and further stymied by regulations for decades.

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But regardless, at the end of the day, BMW managed to create a great chassis packaged in a few different and compelling trim levels. I’ve driven my dad’s F83, which I recommended he purchase once he became inflexible in his criteria to buy a sporty car with a retractable hardtop, and I’ve also driven an M4 GTS from the same generation.

After both of these, I drove this car, the LAPTIMZ Motorsports-built F82 M4. But to understand the evolution of this specific chassis, it’s initially more useful to discuss the versions that BMW themselves released directly from the factory.

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Unshockingly, the experience between the stock convertible version and the ultra factory-spec GTS edition was night and day. My dad’s car is comfortable, compliant, and usable. It makes the right noises, but it’s not loud and doesn’t really wear you out on a long trip, even if you’re making it work hard on a backroad for a portion of your journey.

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The GTS was much harsher, and you could immediately notice just how much stiffer the chassis was with the impressive factory roll cage versus my father’s roof-less version. And the insane titanium exhaust that was only fitted to the GTS always begged for you to step on the throttle. The carbon fiber roof, (problematic) water/injection system, (problematic) billet uprights, and (problematic) optional carbon fiber wheels multiply the coolness factor on the GTS, especially as these features were designed, engineered, and installed by BMW.

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Ultimately, the base coupe, F83 convertible, and limited-production GTS are all great options in their own right. But all were ultimately hampered by being designed as mass-produced road cars, though it is worth pointing out that the GTS was limited to just 800 units, which is a far cry less than the 5,000 E30 M3s that BMW was required to build for homologation purposes back in the day. Of course, BMW ended up selling over three times that amount of E30 M3s anyway, so when you’re talking about production numbers in the hundreds, these figures instead invoke thoughts of the 501 examples of the E30 M3 Sport Evolution II that BMW built.

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While the GTS did feel — and sound — special, it didn’t feel nearly as special to drive as an E30 Evolution feels to look at, and it certainly didn’t have any of the charm that even a standard E30 M3 has today. To get the same sort of ‘I’m driving a race car’ feeling that you’d receive from a true homologation car, you have to look to the aftermarket today. And that’s why I’m so into this particular M4.

Of course, you don’t get that collectible factory-delivered cachet of the GTS. But so many modern special edition cars today are simply exercises in how to market and cash out on the concept of exclusivity that, experientially speaking, does that aspect even matter to an enthusiast who only cares about driving?

Aftermarket

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I shot this M4 shortly after its first build phase was completed by LAPTIMZ Motorsports, and as you can see it already was well on its way to being a race car on the street. The original Mineral Gray Metallic worked well with the dark Apex wheels, carbon fiber hood, and aero components, but what I loved most about the car was the super-clean execution of all of the modifications.

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The more time I’ve spent around modified cars, the more clear it has become to me that it’s hard to modify a modern performance car and make it objectively better. Just like the original manufacturer, you have to pick and choose what you’re comfortable sacrificing.

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If it was me, I would have opted for non-halo seats and less aero for more of a street car bias, but the owner of this M4 is an avid and experienced racer who was looking to take this car to a higher track specification.

Actually, LAPTIMZ Motorsports was working with the original owner of this M4, who wasn’t ready to give up all of the streetability that the F82 offered, so this nice balance was struck where the car still had a full trunk, air conditioning, and nearly all of the factory amenities besides those cushy stock seats.

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Under the hood, only a Dinan carbon fiber intake was added alongside a Dinan exhaust, and more power was found via a tune. But eventually, this wasn’t enough for the owner, who wanted to go full tilt in his F82 coupe, which he purchased brand new. It was time to start building the M4 into a race car for NASA and SCCA competition.

Evolution

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A CSF Race intercooler was added by Vt Motorworks in Pleasanton, California along with a slew of supporting parts — from the charge pipes down to the fuel injector O-rings — to crank the power up. While many builders successfully push tons of power through CSF’s larger-than-stock charge cooler, this isn’t really what it was engineered for in the first place. Instead, CSF’s charge cooler helps maintain the intake air temperatures over extended track sessions.

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In this car, CSF’s charge cooler has been paired with their heat exchanger as well as an Active Autowerke equal-length mid-pipe and Dinan rear exhaust section, which easily allow for consistent power delivery in the high 500whp range. Consistency on all fronts was LAPTIMZ Motorsports’ goal for their client, so all the right boxes were checked under the hood.

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Externally, the car was wrapped, and color-coordinated Forgeline wheels were fitted over the existing AP Racing J-hook-type rotor setup. The JRZ RS Pro 3 triple-adjustable coilovers with remote reservoirs were already installed and just needed further tuning to cope with the newfound power.

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A carbon fiber roof was fitted in the quest to add lightness, and while I’m not much a race livery kinda guy, I have to say the M color scheme and design really complements the body lines and aero in this case.

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Inside, things have gotten a whole lot more serious, but although the cockpit is entirely function-first, form hasn’t been sacrificed in the slightest. Fabrication of the cage and the immaculate work refinishing the bare interior was completed locally by Tony Colicchio of TC Design. I love how good this car looks stripped down, and you could go a bit further in this regard, too.

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LAPTIMZ Motorsports has put together a really impressive package over the course of a few years, and I love that their client — again, the original owner — has used this car on everything from the highway to the backroads to the racetrack for just over 30,000 joyous miles.

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But plans change over time, and the owner has decided to let this car go to the highest bidder on Bring a Trailer, which is why I was reacquainted with it again recently.

Although this build is truly set up as a race car at this point, it is still technically streel legal. So, if I was the winner, you’d find me ripping off the wrap in my garage, saving the aero for a time when I learn how to actually drive, and pulling up to a cars and coffee in an incognito-mode race car. Oh, and I’d drive it to Laguna Seca, rip around the track and cruise back home again every chance I got.

The F8X platform is really growing on me.

Trevor Ryan
Instagram: purposebuilt_trevor
purposebuilt.media



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