Video: Alex Hardt’s BMW E46 M3 Ring Monster

Before the Nurburgring star built a dedicated track toy from an E36 M3, he owned a mildly-modified E46 M3 meant for tearing up the tarmac. Though some may wonder why he would eventually opt for the older brother, his E46 helped introduce him the world of BMW tuning.

Hardt’s owned a few cars over the years, including a very clean 130i, but this E46 paved the way for the Nordschleife maestro he is today, since it’s so focused. With the resilience and performance on-hand, it gave Hardt the confidence to push harder and harder.  

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Lifting an inside wheel into the Carousel! Image credit: YouTube

He wanted a car that would double as a weekend cruiser and a Nurburgring missile, with more emphasis on performance. So, he tore out the rear carpet, but left the door lining and the speakers, since, by his own admission, he likes “to drift while listening to some music.” Stylish guy.

Image Credit: tracktools.info

Image Credit: tracktools.info

Though Hardt was only twenty when he built this car, he was wise enough to send it to the pros for its track prep. The shop of choice was Raeder Motorsport, who also did some of the tuning with his 130i and his E36.  

Clearly, they knew what they were doing; the modifications list was lengthy and populated with hi-quality goodies, and nothing superfluous. Adorning all four corners were 2-way KW Competition coilovers, Powerflex bearings, Eibach swaybars, Hawk HT10 HA brake pads, and BBS GT4 rims—measuring 9.5”x18”—wrapped in 265/35 R18 Dunlop Direzzas. Indoors, Raeder had two Recaro buckets—an SPG and a Pole Position—fitted, along with Schroth Profi II ASM belts running through the seats, and an OMP WRC steering wheel topping it all off.

Image credit: M-Forum.de

Image credit: M-Forum.de

For added stability at speed, Raeder opted for the CSL rear cover and diffuser, which would settle the rear without drawing too much attention to the Beemer’s backside. Eventually, he’d clip on a CSL front skirt for good aerodynamic balance front and rear. 

With a lot of practice, Hardt was well into the 7:40s with traffic, but suffered from some braking issues. Even though he had ducts in the front, they simply could not cope the abuse the Nordschleife throws at them, and the pads glazed after a few hot laps. Not willing to be limited by the equipment, the ambitious young man bolted on a set of AP Racing 6-piston brakes with 378mm rotors. With the reassurance offered by resilient brakes, sticky rubber and a healthy contact patch, he could whittle his lap times down—and eventually snagged a very impressive 7:34 on the stopwatch!

Image Credit: tracktools.info

Image Credit: tracktools.info

Pushing the car harder than he had before, Hardt needed to strengthen the foundation. At the rear, Raeder reinforced the rear axle and added rigid axle bearings. At the front, they added a Uniball longitudinal steering bearing. No more worries about any massive failures at speed.

After that, Hardt had a stunning track toy that could drift, turn fast laps, and surely impress girls. Why he sold this car—which was capable of 7:38 laps—and moved on to an E36 isn’t clear. However, seeing as he’s been able to snag a 7:25 in the older, lighter machine, it seems he made the right choice.

About the author

Tommy Parry

Tommy Parry has been racing and writing about racing cars for the past seven years. As an automotive enthusiast from a young age, he worked jobs revolving around cars throughout high school, and tried his hand on the race track on his 20th birthday. After winning his first outdoor kart race, Tommy began working as an apprentice mechanic to amateur racers in the Bay Area to sharpen his mechanical understanding. He has worked as a track day instructor and automotive writer since 2012, and continues to race karts, formula cars, sedans, and rally cars in the San Francisco region.
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