Weekend Warrior: The Pandem M3
Dream Car

Growing up, we all had that one older relative we looked up to. Maybe they would show up late to holiday gatherings with a new girl — or maybe they wouldn’t show up at all.

Your parents probably told you that they’re the irresponsible one, but you still considered them the coolest person on the planet. And a big part of your perception of this person’s identity was caught up in the car they drove. In Nick Sunseri’s case this relative was his uncle, and the car was a BMW M3.

Ever since Nick could drive he’s included fast cars in his life; sometimes as weekend cruisers, other times as his daily drivers. But when he found this particular E46 M3, it was something extra special to him – a nostalgic throwback to his childhood dream car. Additionally, it fulfilled his wish for a more contemporary car with the right balance of timelessness and modern technology. The BMW checked all the boxes that mattered to Nick, so he jumped on it.

Unsurprisingly, the most important box for him was the car’s ability to show the driver a good time on the backroads.


Nick says the feel of the car is his favorite thing about it, a sentiment that many with weekend warriors have — that’s sort of the point, isn’t it? In Nick’s case, the ease of a standard weekday commuter makes the ‘TGIF’ effect even more real; he daily drives a big pokey Honda CR-V and takes the M3 out on the weekends.


Due to the stark contrast in driving sensation, he says every weekend feels like he’s in a brand new car.


However, like any enthusiast, Nick wanted the aesthetic of the car to suit his specific taste. He decided to sew a Pandem wide-body kit onto his car, paying close attention to the details and opting for hardware from DownStar.

The decision was made in part because at the time there were few E46s with the kit; Nick felt it was unique, as well as the fact that he liked the boxier feel of the Pandem bodywork when compared to the standard Rocket Bunny kit.


You can immediately tell from the ride height that the suspension setup was an important aspect of the build. As Nick was building the car with both the backroads and the idea of taking it to shows in mind, he opted for an Air Lift Performance setup to get the best of all worlds.


With the ability to park the car on the ground, Nick is able to exaggerate the beauty of the factory lines while not sacrificing driveability. Aside from the addition of the Air Lift Performance 3P management controller, the interior remains almost entirely stock — the Raven Motorsports roll bar is the only exception for now.


To add a bit of spice to the rear and — and help the M3 cut through the air a bit — Nick decided to include a duck-billed CSL trunk lid and a Tekarbon carbon fiber rear diffuser. The look is balanced in the front with the standard Pandem splitter.


It all sits on top of Work Meister wheels in black chrome, laced up with matching black chrome PBM lug nuts to haul the steed around. All four wheels are tightly shod by Federal 595 RS-RR rubber in the front with Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport rubber in the rear.

Show Car

The simple build is stunning enough to compete at any beauty pageant, but Nick says he isn’t so sure of the practices at the automotive equivalent any more.


Nick has chaperoned his car to a few shows but doesn’t plan to bring it to many more. He brought up a sentiment during our chat that we are beginning to hear more and more often, of a certain crowd in the car show scene.


On one hand we are all about inclusivity, but at what point does the ethos of the event lose its meaning? “Car owners at shows are out of touch with car culture. People put tons of money into a build and lots of attention to detail, but the organizers will allow low-quality cars with fake parts into the same event, and it degrades the value of the whole show,” Nick tells us.


Being approved for a show used to be an accomplishment in itself, even if you didn’t win any awards. Nick says it sometimes seems that almost any build can show up at certain events, deteriorating the meaning for builders who want to go the extra mile.


Nick feels the E46 M3 in particular is timeless and deserves a vision, dedication, and real parts — he can’t see how someone could or would cheap out on a car like this, or any other car for that matter.


Still, Nick was quick to say that the personal connection at shows is what really makes them stand out. For example, Nick mentioned in particular that Elvis Skender, StanceNation founder, has been a big inspiration over the years.

Nick told me about a time where he had to go to the hospital for a medical emergency before a StanceNation show opened and Elvis sent Nick a care package of swag.


These are the sort of things that can make a bigger impact than any build.

Back To The Future

Nick’s car may be close to where he wants it aesthetically, but he still has a few more tricks up his sleeve that’ll be coming in the future. A build is never really finished, is it?


The interior will be the next subject on the operating table, with Nick planning to reupholster everything and add custom Recaro seats finished with BMW stitching.


The M3 features the stock S54 engine with a Dinan Stage 3 ECU tune, as well as a Dinan intake and exhaust.

Still, Nick sees a few more undone buttons under the hood. Ultimately, he wants more power from the engine to make his weekend release even more cathartic. Nick plans to add either a turbo or a supercharger to the situation — maybe you guys have some suggestions?


Alongside said power adder, Nick wants to upgrade his utensils so he can fully savor and enjoy the experience. A steering wheel is likely on the way, with plans to install a new short shifter to help milk the power out of each gear change.


He also intends to add a custom splitter to the front end. While this is largely an aesthetic move he’ll be sure to source parts which do their job at speed as well.


Building a car is invariably an expensive process, but — in the context of building a show car — Nick says at the end of the day if you’ve installed replica parts what’s the point; are you still proud of it? While there’s certainly a balance to strike in every build, Nick feels that instead of feeding the decline of shows by bringing a build that is more fake than real, why not patiently attend shows from the other side, get inspired, save up, and support the original designers and fabricators?


Enthusiasts like Nick who take a fairly common and accessible car and make it something extraordinary are what car culture should be all about. Waiting until you are able to construct your dream car the way you envisioned it will always be worth it.

In the process, you’ll end up building something special to you and to others. This is what Nick did, and it’s hard philosophy to argue with.

Sara Ryan
Instagram: pockowokosara

Photos by Trevor Yale Ryan
Instagram: tyrphoto

Weekends Only



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Interesting build style for an E46 M3. Most of us are pretty conservative with the styling when building, so it's interesting to see something far from the norm. It looks very cleanly executed.

I have an E46 M3 as a track car. They're GREAT for the track. Very capable in stock form. $15K entry price, rev-happy NA making ~300WHP stock, excellent ABS, and big brakes. They only require a few modifications to become absolute track rats. Coming from the Japanese performance world, it was nice to not have to touch the motor or worry about the complications/heat/expense of a turbo in order to have enough power to satisfy myself on the track.

With that said, I wasn't a huge fan of it as a street car. It was fast and rev-happy, but with it's weight and lots of sound deadening, it only became fun past 60 mph. I found it to only be fun on the track, whereas a light car, like a Miata, can be fun driving 25 mph.


Those Work Meister wheels were awesome.


Beauty. I love the video too, maybe add a quick video for all your features ? It's nice to hear the cars :)


The beginning was very sexy and kind of grainy. It had an 80's condom ad flavor to it...that's not a bad thing.


Not bad...


the only real parts are the ones you make or modify yourself, everything else is a product.

Maybe its because i am from a different place in the world, but having those people who have low quality or "fake" parts at the shows gives an opportunity to start a conversation and possibly help another car guy improve the quality of the build. I think what Nick might not understand is that car culture is slowly shrinking; killed by legislation, a new generation with less interest and society changing its perception of the activity(self driving cars), and at this point it is more important to encourage people than to look down on them. By the way, when he says "fake" parts i assume he is talking about replica parts, parts from one company that look and function exactly like another companies product but rebranded. As there are several areas of automotive aftermarket parts where multiple companies make parts that function to exactly the same standards yet only have a difference outward appearance. The point is that some people dont know any better, some cant afford any better and some didn't know that it could be done another way. For me, the most important part of any build are the parts the owner had made with their own two hands, some tools and raw materials. Anyone can throw parts at a car, show me what custom unique thing you made for it to really impress me.

he can’t see how someone could or would cheap out on a car like this, or any other car for that matter

but yet he went with the pressure based airlift system instead of the height monitored one? Everyone is on a budget and some people just have less money, If you start excluding people based on how much money that they can put into their cars then car shows go back to being elitist hangouts where your membership is based on how much money you can throw at a car and do more to kill car culture than help it.

That being said, there is nothing stopping Nick from starting his own car show that is curated just the way he wants it to be.


Not hating on Nick, or the car. the car looks nicely done.
but in all fairness..
a Widebody
a set of (expensive) Wheels
Is not something to be cocky about, it is something everyone with enough money can google, buy and attach. it is the difference between "attaching parts to" or "building" a car.

Again, Although my first drive with one was a "never meet your hero's" kind of experience, I have a sweet spot for E46 m3's, and this one is executed very nice.
it is not Nick, Neither the car.
I think the writing is just a bit douchy.


the height based is super unreliable and screws up all the time, fake in relation to making replica wheels or bodywork


I've had mine for nearly three years with no issues? Actually, I broke a height sensor once due to improper installation (my fault) but it was a 15 minute repair and has been fine since.


So it cheapens his experience that not everybody can throw down as much money on their cars as he does? That sounds like porsche purist mentality - "your porsche isn't a real porsche if it's not a aircooled 911". If you're going to modify your car and stick a pandem kit on it, you're not a purist.


He doesn't sound like a purist. I think he just means that we shouldn't lower our standards at car shows just for the sake of being "inclusive".


Nicely done!


TBH I would keep the stock steering wheel. IMO it's one of the best looking steering wheels out there as far as stock goes, and it doesn't seem that heavy. Maybe a sound system upgrade? though if you're looking for lighter, then maybe it's out of the question.


I think I am going to echo the sentiment some of the other comments already mentioned.

why not patiently attend shows from the other side, get inspired, save up, and support the original designers and fabricators

Building a car is invariably an expensive process, but Nick says at the end of the day if you’ve installed replica parts what’s the point; are you still proud of it?

Actually yes, very much so. And for most people they do not buy replica parts because they want to undermine the original. It is always about the budget. Most car enthusiasts do not make money from building their car, it is hobby that costs money; we all know how much of a money-pit cars can be. It would be irresponsible for enthusiasts to go in debt, ignore other life priorities to just get "real" parts. There are probably many enthusiasts who may never be in a situation where they can get the original parts: but they still want to build, they still want to put in the blood, sweat and tears, they still want to show other people their hard work. The passion is still real, why take it away due to difference in income? That is just absurd.

deteriorating the meaning for builders who want to go the extra mile

That is purely perspective, being a car feature on SpeedHunters is already a huge deal. Showing up at any show is an opportunity to show the quality of work that has been put in. It is a opportunity to be an inspiration for those who cannot put in that kind of money. It can be a way to encourage others. It seems more prideful - then anything else - to force others to your position instead of being humble with what you have to encourage others to also do the best they can.


Pandem kit without big wing is the best thing...


Hey guys, Nick here, owner of this M3. I’m going to keep my response to the “replica” parts simple with the context of what I meant.

I don’t mind if you’re on a budget and want to build a car to your liking, we all start somewhere and I was in the same phase at a time as well. I understand why people go to the replica part route. The context of my statement is based solely on showcasing a car. We all agree being able to showcase your build whether through a show or a magazine is a big deal and a privilege, BUT it would not be if a standard wasn’t placed. People look up to these events and iconic names for the quality they produce. That’s what made me want to build a quality car was seeing the immense quality these events showcased. Names like Speedhunters, etc would not be the brands they are if they didn’t follow that standard and that’s where I have the issue with replica parts. I’ve seen an increase of cars full of replica parts and half built cars showcased and that’s not “show quality”. If you entertain the idea of dropping show standards to include such then you will see the decline of quality presented, plain and simple.

I’m not looking to change anyone’s mind on what they believe a show quality car is but I think a lot of people agree that there has been an increase in participation trophies awarded to people who cheap out to make their car look pretty then to actually spend the time and money on building a quality showcased car.

Thanks to speedhunters for the feature and thank you to the people who took the time to check the article out.


Hey nick, thanks for the clarification. The article made it sound like your main issue was with other car builders but this comment makes it seem like your issue is more with the show organizers. That being said, there are a whole lot of curated car shows that exist out there that seem to meet your standards and you are not going to change them all. There will always be SEMA builds with bluetooth drive shafts and other BS going down at car shows, there is nothing that you can do to stop it unfortunatly as not everyone will share your vision of what the car show is meant to be. Some people want to win at any cost, some are there to do business and make money, some are there for the attention and some are there for the passion. Simply because "winning" at a car show is so subjective to each individual. The other thing to think about is that the organizers generally need a certain number of cars at a show to make it worthwhile for spectators, so that may be why there are more cars with replica parts on them as the other option is just not to have the show.


@Nick S,
Fair enough, thank you expanding on that a bit. As a "show car" there definitely needs to be standards that are kept to for quality of craftsmanship etc. Especially for events or venues where one would expect to see that kind of standard.


Nick sounds like a real douche.


Wait, I thought Rocket Bunny and Pandem were the same company? Nice build. I would probably push the wheels out a bit more to fill the kit out more.


So all it takes to get a spot on this website is having AirLift and Rocket Bunny products? Sure they're quality parts but it doesn't seem like this is breaking the mold here or even pushing the boundaries within that mold.


quality parts only guys
like bulb tail lights


Hard parked trash...


Didn't we just have a nice article about inclusion?

"Quality" can be rather subjective.... take the carbon fiber sticker overlays on that Dinan strut brace for example.... or the dimples produced by those flares... or the vent-mounted controller. Are we judging quality as a brand name, or as functional/aesthetic taste? Me thinks Phaedrus would like to have you over for coffee and chat.

I remember being a vendor on the grass at Bimmerfest (remember that?) and having to listen to HPF rev the bajeebus out of their S54 cars every other minute. I also remember being low-balled ad-nauseum by guys pointing to their admittedly-impressive show car bleating loudly,"don't you want your part on THAT car?!" .. I've kind of become tone deaf to this kind of argument in general.

These cars are meant to be enjoyed, period. If that means showing up to a show to hang with friends while your car still has Kosei's from a track day, or rock chips from a rally, so be it. Lastly I was once foolish, and did foolish things (blue vinyl dash board and FWD burnouts galore), but I learned because of the encouragement (NOT criticism) from fellow enthusiasts.


Should we not have stories which provide multiple perspectives?

And to touch on your last paragraph no one is saying cars aren't to be enjoyed; if that's your takeaway, you're missing something. The point here is that every car has its place, and the owner of this one feels a car show should showcase a certain high-quality caliber of builds, cars which can indeed encourage the next (and current) generation of builders.

I had a car which fit your description perfectly (paint-chipped Miata on Kosei) which I built mildly and absolutely loved. But I had a knock-off seat, unimpressive fitment, and no cohesive theme besides a few parts which made the car quicker. As such I didn't take it to car shows I took it to track days and weekend cruises.

Again, every car has its place and should be enjoyed as such...

Mahesh Sukhram ZA

Thanks for the first comment Mike.

I'm from South Africa and my perspective from this country. We have the same argument here regularly on forums well at least too as forums have died out one of the reasons where rich guy's would condemn fake replica parts, this would result in ostracizing people for not being able to afford branded names leading to online separate forums etc. We have a terrible economy resulting in extremely weak currency making brand names a pipe dream for the majority of enthusiasts.

Take for an example this very M3 with its modifications is worth the same as many many peoples retirement funds in this country. Do people understand this?

Should poor people not modify their cars and pursue their passion? or should they wait and save until their 45 years old so that can build their first car.

I for example am middle income and if do save I can afford a garret turbo if it does break it would be costly and painful would have taken some 18 months plus or more to save up for it though, but I did not go down this route I went down the Chinese route broke the turbo twice repaired myself in my garage and has cost me peanuts. I would love a genuine garret and will definitely own one day but right now is just not the right time as my disposable income just simply wont allow it.

I did all the mechanical work myself as a 1st timer im not a mechanic, learnt to weld on the car, spend many hours studying and reviewing text books and manuals teaching myself. This is all in vain because magazines and websites and FELLOW ENTHUSIASTS wont recognize my car because I used fake parts on my cars and not the hard work that's gone into it. Sorry no features of us. . . lol.

In the mean time I was able to afford a decent education for my son ( an extremely prized possession in this country) and other much more important things in life, public school has become a no go in this country. In the meantime atleast I get to drive and enjoy car my instead of saving and waiting for retirement.

This is not a stab at the owner of the car or anybody else, everyone has the views and they are entitled to it.

The point I am trying to make is to the general car public. . . . EVERYBODY'S SITUATION IS DIFFERENT and Don't make broad cynical AND HURTFUL STATEMENTS THAT COULD BE OFFENSIVE.

Thank and regards


I understand entirely where you're coming from and so does the owner of this car.

You totally should enjoy working on and modifying your car regardless of what parts go onto it, especially if they're improving the car over OEM. And if your car is one of the more cohesive, well thought-out builds in the region, then by all means it belongs in a local show or a magazine.

You can be an enthusiast without a nice car or even without a car at all, but in here in the Bay Area it is a bit off-putting when cars in the parking lot are nicer than cars in a show which people paid to enter and paid to attend. I think this is the context where this is most apparent.


Would you consider featuring a car that might represent the opposite of Nick's M3? Since Trevor is in the Bay Area, why not visit a local car meet and feature one that isn't "expensive" and has replica parts. Or even a mix of authentic/replica parts. I think you would find the owner extremely proud of their build and ready to share their ride on SH. A feature like this could add balance and make good on your (mentioned previously) "inclusion" editorial. We are all enthusiasts, at different stages in our life.
Or, it would make one hell of a April Fool's post :) With plenty of commenting to follow.


Don't be offended so easily, nobody has a problem with you building your car in the way that you want. Use whatever cheap parts or expensive parts that you want, people just don't want to see it in a car show because it lowers the value and quality of the show. You have different priorities than Nick, which is perfectly fine, but that is the reason Nicks car is featured and yours isn't. If Speedhunters featured low dollar builds with fake parts and low quality none of us would visit it, which is the same problem with car shows.


I don't know who you think you are representing in your statement Nate, but the majority of guys I know would much rather see Mahesh's car at a "show" than the one featured here.

The featured car is neat, but I'd love to see/hear about the process behind Mahesh's build.


I think the majority of car enthusiasts would prefer not to see Mahesh's car at a show, nor on this site. I encourage him to build the car his way and to enjoy it but there needs to be a level of quality for car shows, car magazines, sites such as this etc. If you and your friends enjoy budget builds, good for you. Many of us who spend years saving up and tracking down authentic parts along with many hours building/restoring cars and parts would prefer not to be at a show parked next to cars with identical stolen designs from ebay. It cheapens the amount of effort, time and money people invest into quality builds. Taking the cheap and easy way for instant gratification is going to drive talented people away from shows.


After you've design parts and restored cars for a while you end up feeling pretty comfortable in your own skin. I'd rather enjoy pulling up with one of my cars, and parking it next to an overly enthusiastic teenager with his blue-sprayed-painted dashboard. Shoot, he could even be rocking the knocked-off version of a part I designed! To hear his enthusiasm, his thought process, his happiness, would be far preferable than parking next to a prettier car driven by someone with a conflated sense of self-worth.

At the end of the day, I guess the price tag on something as subjective as a custom car kind of becomes moot compared to the great people I meet along the way.


Ive built plenty of cars and Ive fabricated a lot of parts. I don't have an issue with budget builds or the people who build them. Just keep the half built and fake parts cars out of the shows. Car meets yes, car shows no. Most of the people that Ive met who build high quality cars are good people as well, they just have vast amounts of talent and knowledge (and most of them are willing to share that knowledge).


Hi guys

I read your replies wrt to my comment thanks for it, Nate and Trevor your points are VALID and I don't disagree with you at all. I'm not a hater of high ends builds without them they will be no innovation, no inspiration, no competition etc. I come to Speedhunters to see them for obvious reasons.

Thanks and regards


Very cool to hear about your experience. In the interest of wrapping this up, I view an event where any registrant that meets a simple description is welcomed (think bimmerfest, JCCS, SoCalVintage, AutoEnthusiast Day, etc.) is more closely related to a "meet". To me, a proper "show" that warrants careful curation of it's cars is akin to an event like Pebble Beach, Grand National, Amelia Island, etc. Which "shows" that meet that concept have been letting ill-suited cars in?

Shoot, remember when a certain segment at Pebble Beach took offense at organizers letting "riff-raff" and "unelegant" vintage Ferrari's in?

If you want to propose something akin to a proper show for "modified tuner cars", then there may be a business case to make. As far as I know, there isn't one. Until then, bring on the "spray-painted-dashboards".... or maybe build a different kind of car that meets the criteria of a proper show?

Mahesh Sukhram ZA

I forgot to add that I really like the featured car and congrats on a great build.


A “show” car that is for all intents and purposes stock + bags, a body kit and wheels........riiiiight

And FYI meisters are copies of SSR professors.


for all intents and purposes there are a few more mods than you listed lol.


Hi guys

I read your replies wrt to my comment thanks for it, Nate and Trevor your points are VALID and I don't disagree with you at all. I'm not a hater of high ends builds without them they will be no innovation, no inspiration, no competition etc. I come to Speedhunters to see them for obvious reasons.

Thanks and regards

Thanks and Regards


Nick, awesome ride man! Love the wheels! And the roll bar. My neighbor has a 2002 E46 M3 black on black. Only has 60K on the odometer. It's 6 speed and DSG. Car flies. Seen him reach 160 on highway here in New Jersey. He LOVES this car to death. Going to BMW CCOA yearly meet on April 6 in Jersey. Met a guy who works for BMW and he invited me. Should be good. Keep up the goog work with the car.


Wheels looked better on the first car they were on, the Ferrari Red (then Velvet Blue) Pandem E46...

That car was also better built. Tough for me to take anything about this article seriously when the guy has thrown on the wide body and suspension/wheels and then calls it a show car. Didn't even bother to update the tails with the OEM LED's offered by BMW.


Money spent does not equal a better build.
a clean cohesive build is better than a bunch of parts with high price tags.

that being said you don't have to spend $6000 on a set of wheels you can buy second hand "real" wheels and refinish them for about the same as a rep set of wheels. Fourms were and still are an invaluable source for part outs. with some research and patience "real" parts are available at a cost affordable for most


His wheels are used so he’s not any big baller lol