There's an old adage in the auto industry that states simply, "Win on Sunday, sell on Monday." It's attributed to a Ford dealer in the 1960s, but regardless of who coined the phrase it highlights the seduction motor racing has on its spectators. Clearly this cause-and-effect marketing is meant to entice customers to the show room. See a Corvette at the finish line, lust for a Corvette. See an Audi slip the checkered flag, yearn for an Audi.
In the case of James Demmitt, however, the correlation was more direct. See the PTG BMW M3s whomp the competition, must have a PTG BMW M3. Unfortunately, real BMW M3 CSLs and GTRs constructed by the Prototype Technology Group are somewhat hard to come by. When the "For Sale" sign is taped to the side window, the cars are often a tad pricey and they are hardly the best daily drivers. They tend to be loud and ride rough, and with massive amounts of rubber under the fenders they're a pain in the ass to parallel park.
For Demmitt, these setbacks were not enough to subdue his desire for a racer that once dominated the American Le Mans series GT class. If he couldn't own a GTR, the long-time enthusiast of Bavarian cars would have to do the next best thing--build himself an M3 reminiscent of the PTG champions.
Crack open Demmitt's garage and you see he's done that and more. He has built an intimidating brute that even resting quietly in its hangar seems eager to lunge forth. The thing is wide, really wide. Battleship wide, on the order of the U.S.S. Alabama. And under its carbon-fiber hood reside five-hundred steeds. With every blip of the throttle they buck and snort, each one eager to find an open road to stretch its legs.
But before the broad silhouette, before the slam-your-head-into-the-Sparco-seats horsepower, there was a green 1992 325 sedan residing in Demmitt's garage. That was three years back when he was struck with the idea of building a streetable M3 racer. Resigned to the fact that there had to be compromises in creating a refined GTR, Demmitt settled on using his 325 as the project's base. It was a four-door sedan, certainly, but the chassis was dimensionally identical to a factory E36 M3. This was an important factor as Demmitt had purchased an E36 M3 parts car to gain the much-needed suspension and brake components.Wanting the look of the more modern, slim-eyed E46, Demmitt fitted the car with a bold M3-style fiberglass front bumper. A carbon-fiber hood was fabricated to match the E36's dimensions at the windshield while morphing at the leading edge into the newer, in-the-hood kidney grille of the E46.To gain the broad, curvaceous lines of the heralded GTR, Demmitt started with a complete PTG E36 M3 body kit. From this he created fiberglass molds in order to enlarge the fenders an additional two inches without destroying the original pieces. To match the flares, the front bumper ends were also stretched. This gave the car the breadth Demmitt was hoping for.
Since the PTG body kit was designed for a two-door coupe, Demmitt had to redesign the rear fender flares to accommodate the back doors. Again, he created fiberglass molds in order to avoid carving up the expensive kit. He tried a variety of fender shapes until he determined what looked and worked best on the sedan. On the rear deck, Demmitt incorporated the carbon-fiber high wing from PTG's #7 competition car--not a similar wing, but the actual hooped airfoil used during PTG's early raids on the ALMS.Again, as the 325 chassis was identical to the E36 M3 parts car, transferring the suspension and brake components were simple bolt-on upgrades. Still, several renovations were added with the assembly. Aggressively rated coilovers and adjustable Koni shocks from Ground Control Suspension Systems were incorporated. The Konis were hung from adjustable mono-ball camber plates at the front and rear upper suspension points. Additional corner management is induced by Eibach anti-sway bars, 24mm up front and 22mm at the rear.
Stopping power was assigned to the factory E36 M3 brake system, again graciously donated by the parts car. At the four corners, Demmitt wrapped the calipers with three-piece BBS race wheels measuring 11x18 inches and shod with meaty 295/35-18 Bridgestone SO2 rubber.
As Demmitt had invested an enormous amount of time and effort in his creation, the last thing he intended to do was skimp on the heart of his road racer. He evicted the 325's 190-hp, 2.5-liter in favor of a 3.0-liter M3 motor. But before the inline six was allowed into the engine bay there were tweaks to be made.
The displacement was increased to 3.2 liters and the motor was mated to a five-speed M3 transmission. Lightweight forged JE pistons were set onto Pauter connecting rods and attached to a knife-edged crank. The DOHC engine head was polished and ported and sculpted to accept larger intake and exhaust valves. Custom fabricated headers and exhaust piping were also utilized.
While these changes certainly gave the M3 motor more grunt, what tops the intake manifold is what earns the engine its place under the hood. The 3.2-liter is force-fed by a Stage 3 Vortech V1 supercharger with an air-to-liquid aftercooling system. With a re-mapped ECU and the ability to run nearly 16 psi of boost, Demmitt estimates the motor will generate 500 screaming horses. Using the supercharger with the stout inline six actually gives the car more horsepower than that produced by the factory GTR 4-liter V8s.
So, if you find this particular M3 filling your mirrors, heed your survival instincts and move over. Way over. Because Demmitt is going to pass you. He just needs the room.