Rapid & Reliable: An E46 M3 Built For The ‘Ring

Ringtool (noun): A vehicle designed to go as fast as possible, as many times as possible, specifically around the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

The Nürburgring needs no introduction, but I’ll give you one anyway. 73 corners, 1,000 feet of elevation change, tight hairpins and long sweeping corners. It is 20.8km of automotive heaven (or hell), winding its way through the Eiffel region of Germany. It’s a track that has claimed lives and made heroes. It’s a track I’ve driven thousands of miles on (in video games), but until recently had never visited in person. It’s an amazing place, and the cars that frequent it are equally incredible.

Fabian E46 M3-86

Back to the intro for a moment. The term ‘Ringtool’ gets a mixed reaction from most track-goers, in the UK at least. I think there’s a pre-conception that someone who develops or builds a car solely for one track is a bit of a ‘try-hard’. I would actually agree, but not as an insult. After seeing just how hard some of the track’s sections are, and the dedication that owners have flinging their cars into those ridiculous corners, it takes a lot of courage to spend thousands building a car that could be reduced to scrap with one bad line or oil spill.

Fabian E46 M3-26

Fabian (aka Mr. Pflanzgarten) is a self-proclaimed ‘Ring addict who’s now five years into his Nürburgring journey. His first laps around the ‘Green Hell’ were made in his R35 Nissan GT-R, which you’d expect to be perfectly suited for the windy track. In reality, the Nissan was a bit of a beast. Heavy cars wear consumables very quickly on the ‘Ring. According to Fabian, “On the track the Nissan was too expensive and much too fast.

Fabian E46 M3-4

He was hooked though, and immediately set out to build something more suitable. Cue his previous BMW, a V8-swapped E30 known as Helga. Powered by a BMW M60B40 4.0L engine, the E30 was a go-kart compared to the GT-R. It was a proper little Ringtool, stripped and caged with a low-stress engine and an emphasis on driving experience. Going from an R35 GT-R to an E30 is a huge change though, and Fabian could certainly feel the difference.

Fabian E46 M3-2

Four years of experience later, and now much faster around the track, the difference Fabian could feel was a huge increase in danger should the worst happen. This, plus getting a little too ‘used’ to the E30 meant it was time for a change. This change presented itself in the form of a stock, Silver Grey BMW M3 E46.

Fabian E46 M3-29

With a car this ‘built’, I’d usually address the long arduous process over years to get the M3 perfected for its use. Not this time. In the most stereotypical way possible, Fabian came over all German and decided that the car would be built quickly and built well, without cutting corners or faffing around. In just 10 weeks, the M3 became what you see before you. This is one of the most well rounded, ‘polished’ track cars I’ve had the pleasure of seeing in person.

Fabian E46 M3-21

The most notable change is the colour, obviously. The M3 was resprayed in entirety as a bare shell in a BMW Individual shade called Urban Green. Fabian’s initial idea was to keep the car the original colour, but his father-in-law has a bodyshop and would simply not allow it. There is no silver grey left on the car. Even the roll cage is the body colour.

Fabian E46 M3-8
Fabian E46 M3-71

Speaking of which, the roll cage itself was a big part of the build. Fabian sent his M3 shell to Ireco Motorsport in Poland to have the weld in cage fabricated. They have a fantastic reputation in Europe for their work, and after seeing it in person I can see why. Now this may have been lost in translation, but when Fabian was telling me about the car getting shipped back with the cage he was adamant that the Ireco team had coated it in olive oil to prevent surface rust in transit. I was going to describe the cage as tasty, but not in that sense… Thank you.

Fabian E46 M3-3

In the bodyshop, the M3’s roof was replaced with a Carbonius carbon fibre item to lower the centre of gravity. With a full motorsport cage, the roof skin would only provide nominal rigidity to the chassis.

The roof gives off serious CSL vibes, and is tied together beautifully with the rest of the carbon touches around the car. The carbon front splitter is from MK Motorsport, whilst the rear wing is a Carbon Production GT4 item.

Fabian E46 M3-44

My favourite showstopper pieces of bodywork come in the form of Floßmann M3 GTR style front fenders and a matching bonnet. These vented and louvred panels transform the front of the car, and in this case provide functional effects.

Fabian E46 M3-33

The Floßmann bonnet does help to keep engine temperature cool after repeated laps of the ‘Ring, and the fenders help turbulent air escape the wheel arches.

Fabian E46 M3-57

For the BMW nerds in the audience (like me), I’ll let you in on a little fact. That boot lid? It’s a genuine CSL item. Oh yeah!

Fabian E46 M3-47

From factory Fabian’s M3 had rear pop windows, but these were binned in the stripping process and replaced with polycarbonate Plastics4Performance louvred items. The rear window is the same, albeit non-louvred.

Fabian E46 M3-62

Peek in through that rear window and you’ll notice a carbon fibre parcel shelf to help neaten up the rear cabin. The cockpit is a nice place to sit, with just the right mix of OEM comfort and performance.

Fabian E46 M3-58

Fabian and one lucky passenger are held in place by aramid fibre (Kevlar) Recaro Pole Position SPAs and 6-point SCHROTH Racing harnesses. The dashboard has been re-trimmed in Alcantara to prevent glare, and the OEM steering wheel has been replaced with a Momo item with a custom shift light indicator.

Fabian E46 M3-93
Fabian E46 M3-66

The audio and HVAC and been replaced with oil pressure/temperature, water temperature and battery voltage gauges, whilst body coloured pedals and Fabian’s body-coloured race helmet round out the interior accessories. Oh, and the great big Tesla-esque data logger and lap timer facing the driver of course.

Fabian E46 M3-77

Pop the bonnet and you’ll find… not much to be honest. After the raw speed of the GT-R and the lazy grunt of the V8 E30, Fabian decided the best bet would be a higher-revving, low-stress engine. A standard S54 does the job perfectly. The only modifications are to improve flow and reliability. An upgraded aluminium radiator and oil cooler ensure engine temps stay steady, whilst a 100-cell catalytic converter and Friedrich Motorsport titanium rear section help the car to breathe (and sound) a little better. Gold heat tape at the back of the bay helps to prevent heat soak into the cabin on longer runs.

Handling has been Fabian’s priority with the M3, and the list of chassis upgrades makes for impressive reading. If the purple top mounts weren’t a give-away, the car is suspended on a set of KW Competition 2-way adjustable coilovers. Arguably one of the best sets on the market for the M3, they’re a mainstay among Nürburgring die-hards.

Fabian E46 M3-20

All of the bushes underneath the car have been either been replaced with solid aluminium or rose-jointed. This is one stiff M3, but if feedback is your ultimate goal, this is the way to achieve it to the max. This is further enhanced by the genuine CSL steering rack that has also been fitted. I can understand why Fabian has the Pole Positions. Anything less supportive and the lack of ‘slop’ in the chassis would leave you with a sloppy spine instead.

Fabian E46 M3-88

Braking is taken care of by an AP Racing big brake kit on the front axle, with upgraded discs and Endless pads all round. Brake cooling is provided by a Burkhardt Engineering ducted backing plate setup.

Fabian E46 M3-30

Team Schirmer-spec BBS E88s fill the arches, measuring in at 18×10.5-inch and 18×11-inch front to rear. These are one of my favourite wheel designs; timeless motorsport. 265 and 295-section Nankang AR1s provide the grip the car needs at the speeds it regularly achieves on the ‘Ring.

Fabian E46 M3-22

With all of this work, Fabian has an M3 that takes lap after lap of hard driving on a very arduous track in its stride. It’s powerful enough with a touch over stock horsepower, and with a wet weight of 1,290kg (2,844lb) it’s certainly light enough to be thrown around. Add to that how good it looks in its green paint and you have a winner.

It’s all well and good to have a cutting-edge, highly-strung build, but that’s not what a Ringtool is about. It needs to be capable but also resilient and safe. The last thing you want is to have sudden failure on a track as dangerous as this. Also, I reckon it’s nice to have a car you can thrash all day in the knowledge it will still get you home at night.

Fabian E46 M3-27

In Fabian’s own words: “For safety reasons and to get a new feeling, I bought the M3. I’m so happy with the light M3, and everything works perfectly.”

I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. Now, where do I start with my own Ringtool…

Mario Christou
Instagram: mcwpn



Comments are closed.


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

Thats a stunning build. Great pictures Mario!


Thanks Alen! Much appreciated, I’m over the moon with how these came out!


Got to love ringtool builds like this!
Definitely one of the best E46 M3s out there!


It’s a fantastic bit of kit, and Fabian (the owner) is a real gentleman too.


With it still running number plates, it has to go through TÜV every two years. I wonder if it's actually still road legal, with modifications as extensive as those.


Hi Leo, I reckon it is. I can ask and find out, but all of the parts do appear to be TUV approved.


Scrolls to find a picture of the shifter.
(Curb Your Enthusiasm credit song starts playing)


In all honestly mate, with the speeds cars like this are capable of maintaining around the track and how much focus you need on a hot lap, there is no better gearbox than an SMG or PDK etc.

It’s all well and good banging on about ‘real drivers use three pedals’ and all of that nonsense, but unless you’re Ayrton Senna or Jacky Ickx a manual will be a hinderance in reality.

Side note, Fabian’s mate had an SMG equipped M3 ringtool which had a hydraulic pump issue. He swapped to manual. Regretted it instantly.


Quite a bit of Copium with regard to SMG justification. This car isn't going to be smashing any Nürburgring records, so I still don't get the point. I've driven new hyper cars and understand the argument of technology at all costs (which is why they are starting to struggle for relevance in the shadow of emerging EV tech), but this is a twenty-year-old (awesome) driver's car.

Great car, love the CSL look.

Dodje-Driving Yee-Yee-Looking Hick

I wish car manufacturers would just give us performance chassis so we could all do stuff like this for less. Kit cars it is I guess.
Regardless the wheel pairing and the parts chosen are..... really classy. GGWP.


I’m sure if you paid enough and had enough reason BMW could sell you a few body-in-whites, but you may need a cool few mil which would be counter productive haha


well, they have something little bit similar: the 2 series racing.


Great track car, pity it’s a paddle shift auto!


This is actually BMW’s SMG which is a sequential manual gearbox!

As I responded to Beef above, I get people argue that a driver’s car should have three pedals etc etc, but for every driving other than a three point turn or tight slow city driving the SMG is better than a conventional manual in every way.

Also with a CSL map, the way it bangs through gears is an incredible sensation!


I wish i have someone like his father in law.
That's some serious, clean, and sexy build i was smiling ear to ear and day dreaming that it's me behind the wheel while scroling through this article.


Some of these photos belong in a BMW brochure! Honestly such a clean build given it's time frame. Great read!

Brandon Paulsen

Love seeing some SMG II representation!

I'm a mega-fan of British Racing Green and Aston Martin Racing Green - I'm certainly adding Urban Green to that list!


Sooooooo...... what's his best lap time? Isn't that the point of a ring-tool? ;)


For laptimes there is NLS/RCN. Ringtool is about having fun and improving skills. TF and trackdays are not a race.


Peter -- that is absolutely incorrect.

As a driving coach the entire point of a track day is to get better at driving your vehicle and the metric of that is a lap time. It's incredible to me how timid men are in this "hobby" about their lap times.

It's just a time...say what you run. Very similar to Jiu Jitsu or combat sports. You're going to get knocked out / hurt if you train / fight enough. Unless you don't take it seriously.

I want to know the lap time and disagree that it is "not important" for track day enthusiasts. To me you don't sound like a real driver if you say this.

translation servicespk

GENCO Jobs 2022 includes Genco Holding Co Limited jobs April 2022, March 2022 and February 2022 listing, which can be viewed online. View new online GENCO listing of latest 2022 Genco Holding Co Limited vacancies and upcoming Genco Holding Co Limited jobs 2023. You can also apply on previous jobs 2021 online from home. Choose best Genco Holding Co Limited career opportunity as per your qualification and experience and make money from home or office. Join GENCO Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Balochistan, Gilgit Baltistan, AJK by applying todays jobs now.


Beautiful build, but as an E46 M3 owner that that tracks his car the title is a mf'ing TRAP!
See Dino's previous 964 project story for a true reflection of E46 M3 ownership


“On the track the Nissan was too expensive and much too fast."

Uh...what? lol. That's the whole point of a race track...