Former ec tech editor Dan Barnes recently crossed over and began working for StopTech Brakes. During his tenure we'd done a few tests with StopTech brakes and always come to the same conclusion: These things really work. Although I didn't feel the M3 needed more stopping power, Barnes convinced me that the StopTech system is a significant upgrade over the stock units. What makes StopTech brakes good is a combination of three key elements: ultra-strong caliper construction (via Stoptech's patented bridging technology), larger and more efficient rotors, and balanced piston vs. master cylinder design. Ultimately, you want a brake upgrade to provide shorter stopping distances, better brake modulation, firmer pedal feel and less brake fade. While some big brake kits can provide one or two of the aforementioned issues, Stoptech does them all and does 'em well.

The original plan was to retain the M3's stock 18-inch wheels and 225/45-18 and 255/40-18 Toyo RA1 tires. Although 10mm spacers would be required to clear the multi-spoke BMW alloys, I wanted to retain the tire depth for comfort reasons. I was summarily laughed out of the office. While it is entirely possible to use said running gear, it wouldn't have been "cool." If I didn't go with a 19-inch wheel-and-tire combo, staffers threatened to chant and dance around my office while insulting my apparently aged sensibilities.

Yeah, whatever.

It's funny how I found myself revisiting my old standbys, first Koni and now BBS. I've been a huge fan of BBS since my first trip to Le Mans some 20 years ago when I saw their wheels used in a genuine racing environment. I remember asking a Porsche mechanic why they used BBS wheels and he said "Weil sie arbeiten" (translated: "Because they work").

BBS has done a fabulous job of bringing that same race-proven technology to the street. I've been using BBS since that '75 2002 I mentioned before, the one with the Konis. And now I would use BBS again. Why? Because they work.

There are several factors that make BBS a great choice for wheels, the most important of which is the material used and the way in which it is formed. The metal alloys used in BBS wheels are among the purest and strongest in the industry, and BBS' patented semi-forging process ensures maximum strength with minimal mass. And that's the real trick--making a super-strong wheel without it being heavy. An added BBS bonus is that it is one of the few wheel companies which takes into account big brake packages. BBS has the offset to clear to most monstrous calipers.

The M3 will wear BBS RSGT wheels, 8.5x19 front and 9.5x19 in the rear. Weighing a paltry 22.7 pounds each, these two-piece wheels feature a forged inner section and a spun/semi-forged outer section. The RSGT is a classic--it looks great today, it'll look great ten years from now.

I'd say Project E46 M3 is shaping up, except for the fact that is was already in shape. Next issue we'll see how well our new BBS running gear, Toyo tires and StopTech brakes perform.

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