Of all the cars in BMW's closet, the 6 Series wears its new togs the best. It is the quintessential luxury sports coupe, both low-slung and aggressive. If fans of the Roundel wanted a hero, this is it.
Federico Pavoncelli has been a BMW fan since he bought his first 320i more than 20 years ago. "The original owner said it had Recaros in it," he recalled. "I didn't even know what Recaros were." Despite his being fairly noobish, the BMW bug bit Pavoncelli hard. He had to make the car faster and look better. Problem was, no one had anything he liked. He had to make everything himself. Like many Italian designers, Pavoncelli is both gifted and somewhat unorganized. In speaking with him he occasionally drifts off as another project comes to mind. And given BMW's current product line, Pavoncelli will become even more distracted. He's got a big job ahead.
Looking at the R54 featured on these pages, it's obvious Pavoncelli and the crew at RD Sport were well focused. They've essentially built a unique version of BMW's vaunted M6, a car that promises to be both rare and exclusive. Should you need one of these, you might want to buy a 6 Series in Munich and drive it to Milan. Spend a week or two in the Dolomites, and upon returning, you'll be treated to a very different car.
Inside its machine shop, RD Sport disassembles the N series engine and enlarges the bore and stroke to accommodate new forged pistons with F1-type rings, a billet crank and exotic connecting rods. Exact dimensions are unique to the R54 and Pavoncelli keeps them secret. RD Sport then installs its sport cams and "breathes" on the valvetrain for greater efficiency. The motor is treated with stainless-steel tubular headers, metal matrix cats, an X-flow crossover pipe and custom silencers. RD Sport then re-maps the computer to best utilize the motor's new dimensions. Dyno testing showed a sizable improvement, with peaks of 496 bhp and 415 lb-ft of twist.
"We recorded a sustained 311 km/h on the autostrada," Pavoncelli said."Our aerodynamics do a pretty good job of keeping things grounded."
That the R54 is powerful is already proven. That it can do 193 mph is testament to the way it's shaped. It takes more than bhp to get safely get a car going this fast. The RD Sport aerodynamic package consists of a unique front airdam, side skirts and rear valance. The stuff is comprised of carbon-Kevlar with 100% carbon inlays. And while the parts are extremely strong, they are also flexible enough to take daily-driven beatings.
RD Sport also offers driveline conversions featuring limited-slip differentials, and a 3.41:1 rear axle. These can be augmented with a diff cooler plumbed into the rear valance. The RD Sport driveline kits are an intelligent way to wring more performance from a BMW. It's a shame more tuners don't pursue gearing mods, as they make use of what's already there.
The underpinnings are revised with RD Sport bits including springs and dampers, conspiring to lower the chassis nearly an inch. Brakes can be upgraded to include six-piston calipers and 15-inch vented and slotted discs. Running gear is comprised of 20-inch RS2 forged wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport 2 rubber.