I’m not going to lie, snacking on cakes was definitely the best thing about meeting Hide-san and his CSL-inspired Alpine White E46 BMW M3.
Not because the M3 was any less appetising than the cakes, but because finding out you have the same sweet treat hankerings as a complete stranger, means you’re bound to have the ice well and truly broken when you meet them in a car park for the first time.
How did we get talking about sweets? Well, before the shoot I had asked Hide-san what he likes to get up to in his M3, and one thing he said struck a chord: “Driving into the mountains to get anpan.”
Some of you might be wondering what in the world anpan is, so let me show you…
Basically, anpan are little sweet breads filled with an azuki bean paste (like tiny kidney beans). At Ogipan, who have been operating near 50 years now, you’ll find a huge selection of fillings including pistachio, sweet potato and chestnuts.
But the best laid plans often crumble. Hide-san and the lads ended up bypassing the anpan entirely in favour of curry agepan. These are deep fried sweet breads with a curry filling. Regardless though, it was well worth the drive.
With our tummies full, we set off to find a place to take a closer look at Hide-san’s M3, because, as usual, the Ogipan carpark was packed.
From the outside, it’s easy to see the CSL inspiration. The front of Hide-san’s car is sporting a Alsatek CSL replica carbon fiber front bumper, complete with the iconic single intake hole.
Surrounding the M3-specific Gruppe M exhaust system is a Status Gruppe CSL-style rear diffuser. You might also notice a few stone chips here and there, and they’ve come about through all the track day action the car sees.
Hide-san started his automotive journey in an RPS13 Nissan 180SX, attending drift and gymkhana events as a college student. He made the jump to Euro cars when he had the chance to drive a friend’s E82 1M Coupe. Needless to say, Hide-san was impressed. He found himself a left-hand drive M3 and began building it up with a grip race focus.
Sitting proudly above the quad-pipe noise-makers you’ll find an OEM CSL boot lid. A slap on the roof might leave you a little disappointed; that’s still good old steel, and not fancy carbon fibre like a real CSL. But don’t be too judgmental though, because you will find custom-widened rear arches.
For Fuji Speedway lapping duties, Hiro-san has equipped his E46 with motorsport-spec Spirit coilovers, H&R sway bars, CSL camber arms and an OEM E46 330i ZHP quick ratio steering rack.
Being a man with unquestionable taste, Hide-san is also running RAYS Volk Racing TE37SAGA wheels in 18×10.5-inch at all four corners, wrapped up in Nankang CR-S semi-slicks. An Endless Mono6 brake upgrade up front ensures plenty of stopping power.
CSL boot lids and bumpers, genuine or replica, find their way onto many E46 M3s, but they’re not what makes an M3 a CSL. There are a number of things which do, but primarily I would say it’s the 110kg (243lb) that BMW’s M division managed to shed from the stock M3’s mass. I mean it’s right there in the CSL name: Coupe, Sports, Lightweight.
Fitting the carbon fibre roof is perhaps a bit of a stretch for Hide-san, as is sourcing some wafer-thin rear glass. But there are plenty of other things he’s done which tip this M3 closer to CSL spec.
Inside, it’s very much ‘Mr. Dusseldorf takes a business trip to Hamburg’ comfortable, clinical and lavished with wood trim. But what really makes things special is that 6-speed manual shifter, something, to the lament of owners and motoring journalists alike, you won’t find in a real CSL.
The Getrag 420G 6-speed is mated to the same S54 inline-six as the CSL via an OS Giken twin-plate clutch, but the engine internals remain as they came in the M3. Power gets to the rear via a BMW Motorsport 3.91 final drive gear and Cusco 2-way LSD.
The M3 motor does however get a bit of a nudge with the help of OEM CSL (DME) plus tuning, plus ‘M-Track’ mode. There’s also a Haimus Racing Tuning CSL air box, an OEM CSL air rail and OEM CSL MAP sensor, which all support better air flow and give the M3 a rather nasty-sounding (in a good way) induction note.
They’re all subtle upgrades on their own, but together they give Hiro-san’s M3 a little more edge. They elevate it above fast executive coupe, and more in line with the track-focused CSL.
The aggressive stance, improved handling and that spine-tingling intake noise make this CSL-inspired M3 an amazing daily driver and track day toy. Plus, you know if you get a hankering for anpan - or strudel for that matter – you can be at the bakery quicker than you can say Bavarian performance legend.