IS IT THE FASTEST CAR EVER TO GRACE THE FLEET? IT'S GOT TO BE CLOSE - THIS 580BHP TRACK TOY HAS EVOLVED INTO A PROPER MONSTER!
It may be something of a sweeping statement here, but this BMW was built pretty much to write off. Now, we understand that talking this way about a spanking new BMW M2 is akin to sacrilege to some, and even more so when it's the pumped up, even more performance-focused Competition model. But, the first thing to remember is that it's all about context…
You see, getting out on track has become more than a bit of a hobby for the boss here at Auto Finesse. Along with the multitude of static shows we attend throughout the course of the season, track days and trips as far flung as the Nürburgring are also very much on the agenda. What with plenty of the bigger events (think: Player s Classic, Ford Fair, The Festival of Speed, etc) being hosted at world-renowned racing venues, too. The draw of the hallowed tarmac is simply too strong.
So, what car to risk it all in? It could only be something brand-new to the fleet. Our Mk2 Golf gets a spanking on the track from time to time of course, but with the ridiculously rare Kamei X1 kit, pushing Project Unknown too far could prove disastrous. The Chevy Stepside? It's powerful, but a bit too precious that one. And the others aren't exactly what you'd call track cars. All that leaves then, is the bosses' Porsche 911 GTS - as you can imagine, that's not happening either!
So, in came the M2 Competition and compared to the others this car offers more of a viable, "budget' alternative… which was the case right up until the modifying began. As is the way things are done here at Auto Finesse, we soon went all-in!
The M2 Competition comes with a number of choice upgrades over the stock M2. The brakes are massive for starters… and they lasted all of about 2-days before they were ditched for an even more gargantuan Alcon Racing setup.
The chassis in fact, was completely overhauled withing a week of this super coupe hitting the fleet. The car was almost immediately sent off to racing specialists A Reeve Performance for the brakes, a stud conversion and some top-spec KW coilovers. It was also fully aligned, corner-weighted, fitted with the Pro Track wheels (complete with sticky race rubber) and finished off with the almost obligatory stainless-steel exhaust. Within a few hours, the car was back at the Detailing Academy for the boys to strip and fit the SW Motorsport roll cage, and then off to Germany to hit the "Ring for its first real outing. It was driven all the way by James the MD, too… that was before the new trailer he had on order had even turned up!
Despite the German weather requiring the procurement of some OZ Racing wheels and tyres which were a little safer in the wet (as seen on the car here), the first major attack of a circuit was a great breaking-in for what was already a reasonably heavily modified weapon. It also highlighted what James really wanted from the car - two words: more power.
The S55 engine fitted to the Competition is another key upgrade over the stock M2. It's the same turbocharged lump you'll find in the F80 M3 and F82 M4, and in the smaller lighter M2 it offers quite the package with a smidge over 400-horsepower. Crucially though, it's extremely tuneable and with the exhaust already fitted, a couple of ITG panel filters, Forge Motorsport charge cooler and some software from A Reeve, and we were knocking on the door of 600bhp. Although we've since dialled it back a little for reliability and drivability - you have to actually make it around the track to put in a laptime, right?
There is of course the other side of tuning, and that's shedding weight. This is the reason that, nowadays, you'll not only find the usual M Performance and Competition upgrades, but a whole load of carbon fibre, too. The custom-made bonnet, along with a spoiler, splitter and diffuser all complete a tuner car look, as well as saving a few pounds along the way.
But, a tuner car is isn't, this is a trackday hero through and through, and we all know that there's only one way to make that obvious - no, not the tow strap (although that's pretty damn cool) - a legit race livery! So, just before the next outing at Brand's Hatch, the car was dropped off at Identity Wraps for what is becoming the most famous of Auto Finesse designs - the Project Unknown-esq race wrap. This, as you would expect, has been treated to our Caramics protection over the top, making it more than ready to rumble, whatever the weather.
The lightweight theme continues inside with the most recent additions Recaro SPG seats and Schroth harnesses. It may seem pretty crazy ripping out the super-plush M2 leathers, but that's the racecar world - and these particular bottom huggers are not only just as plush, but they remove a hell of a lot of heft. They also look the part next to the cage and the all-singing-all-dancing M Performance steering wheel.
And that's the 6-month story of our track car, all neatly tied up in chronological order. Except of course, it wasn't quite that simple. Apart from all the mods at the beginning, the car has been built up, over time, in between making appearances at many circuits around the country. The truth is that every few weeks new mods appear to be fitted at the Detailing Academy, or the car completely disappears to A Reeve for another little fettle.
But, that's the destiny of a true track car, isn't it? They evolve after every outing and take a while to fully set up. Take the exhaust as an example, the first stainless steel system was changed twice, then modified for nose regulations and then ditched altogether for full-on, Akrapovic titanium system. There's been a couple of software tweaks along the way, too. It may sound like messing about of course, but it's actually the complete opposite. It's a simple case of evolution, and the car gets leaner, lighter and meaner every time.
That is the whole point you see. The story of this car is perhaps the simplest of them all - it's simply put together, developed and then redeveloped with a selection of well-thought out, but thoroughly hardcore upgrades. It's evolved from a standard M2 Competition, into the Auto Finesse M2 Competition - and it handles just as well as it looks!
Custom made carbon bonnet, CT carbon front splitter and rear diffuser, carbon rear wing, tow strap with custom cover, custom wrap and graphics
Full Akrapovic titanium exhaust system and downpipes, Forge Motorsport alloy charge cooler, ITG panel filter, A Reeve Performance custom map
(Road/wet weather) 9 and 10x19-inch OZ Ultraleggera Wheels, 235/35x19 and 255x35x19 tyres, (Race/dry weather) 10x18-inch PROTRACK ONE Wheels, Toyo 255/35x18 R888R tyres, KW Clubsport coilovers, Alcon "Race Kit' BBK with 6 pot calipers (front), 4 pot calipers (rear) and floating rotors, Pagid RS29 pads, wheel bolt to stud conversion, fully corner weighted and laser aligned
BMW M Performance suede steering wheel, Recaro Profi SPG seats, Schroth 5-point harnesses, SW Motorsport rear roll cage, rear seat delete, Lifeline fire extinguisher, Garmin Catalyst Driving Performance Optimiser